Illegal overseas organ transplants to be punished
Patients receiving illegal organ transplants overseas will be facing a maximum of five years in prison and a NT$300,000 fine if amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act pass the Legislative Yuan, which is likely to happen, according to legislators. According to Po-chang Lee (
), chairman of Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center ( TWRSC, ), Taiwanese patients still participate in organ trading in mainland China, which permits organ trafficking. Lawmakers aim to curb this brutal act by making it a crime at home.
In May, amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act were proposed, introducing new aspects to the act. Firstly, those undertaking organ trades and transplants arranged overseas will face criminal punishment when patients return to the nation.
Secondly, regulations will make it illegal for organs from criminals sentenced to death to be used in patients.
According to Chen, the controversial issue lies within the diagnosis of brain death. Criminal law allows forensic scientists only 20 minutes in the execution chamber to determine brain death, Chen said.
Under such circumstances, criminals may be certified as brain dead prematurely and medical teams may consequently be removing organs from a living person. “Such cases have really happened,” Chen said, adding that it is will be against the law to remove organs from an executed criminal. Moreover, many profes- sional medical teams have refused to conduct such operations.
The third amendment is to mandate officials to enquire whether a person is willing to donate organs after death when reissuing driver’s licenses, ID cards, or National Health Insurance cards.
Thousands Have Died Awaiting Organ Transplantation: TWRSC
According to TWRSC, in the past nine years, more than 1,372 patients have died before receiv- ing a matching kidney, 2,953 patients before receiving a liver, and 514 patients before a matching heart transplant came to the rescue.
Furthermore, according to TWRSC’s report so far this year, while 41 patients have successfully received liver transplants, another 1,170 are still waiting; 80 patients have been donated a new kidney, while another 6,586 are still on the waiting list.
Legislators said that proactively asking adults whether or nor they would agree to organ dona- tion is more likely to increase the opportunities for patients to seek matching organs, as despite many people being willing to donate organs, they do not know where and how to register their intent on official profiles.
Officials of the Ministry Health and Welfare ( MHW,
) said that most amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act have been agreed to between the ruling and the opposition party; therefore they are likely to be passed during this session.