Vietnam faces critical organ donor shortage
  • | VNS | April 02, 2014 12:49 PM

A severe organ donor shortage in Vietnam means that few patients receive much-needed transplants.

 Doctors in Hue Central Hospital is carrying out a kidney transplant operation on July 10, 2012. Photo by Nld.
Phan Van Bau, director of People's Hospital 115 in HCM City, said that 500 patients need hemodialysis due to serious kidney failure. However, the hospital's 60 machines cannot treat them all, even when operating at full capacity.

During the past 10 years, the hospital conducted barely 60 kidney transplant surgeries, as few people agreed to donate their kidneys. This reflects a nationwide problem. The country has 13 kidney transplant centres, but only about 500 people have received the surgery in the past two decades.

Associate professor Tran Ngoc Sinh, head of the Cho Ray Hospital's Urology Ward, said that thousands of patients need hemodialysis and 100 are waiting for donated kidneys, yet few people are willing to donate organs.

More than 72,000 people in the country suffer from kidney failure and 6,000 need kidney transplants, while 5,000 need cornea transplants and thousands need liver transplants, according to the Ministry of Health.

Every year more than 10,000 people across the country die in traffic accidents, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee. HCM City's Cho Ray Hospital alone sees 1,000-1,500 brain death and head trauma victims every year, and Hanoi's Vietnam-Germany Hospital cited similar statistics.

If one person agrees to donate his or her organs, four or five lives can be saved. However, few families of brain-dead individuals agree to make the donation, often for spiritual reasons.

Associate professor Ha Phan Hai An, head of the Vietnam-Germany Hospital's Kidney and Blood Filtration Ward, said that organ transplants in Vietnam are cheaper than elsewhere in the world, but the cost – hundreds of millions of dong –is still too high for most citizens.

Moreover, after the transplant, patients must use medicines that cost millions of dong per month for the rest of their lives.

The National Centre for Co-ordinating Human Organ Transplants, the first of its kind in the country, was founded at the Vietnam-Germany Hospital in June last year following Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's Decision.

The centre will make a list of people needing organ transplants, co-ordinate with hospitals and medical stations across the country to create an organ bank, call for organ donors and install a management system with information technology.

Leave your comment on this story