Vietnam’s health minister has become the first politician in the country to sign up for organ donations after death, saying she wants to encourage the practice in the country.
Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien was quoted by news website VietNamNet as saying on Monday that the trend has not been popular in Vietnam, which has 14 institutions capable of conducting complicated organ transplants at a low cost.
Tien said Vietnam has mastered the technology, but over the past two decades, it has only received enough organ donations to perform more than 1,100 kidney transplants, 48 liver transplants, 13 heart transplants, more than 1,400 cornea transplants and one pancreas transplant.
She said more than 16,000 patients with heart, kidney, liver and lung diseases and more than 6,000 blind people are waiting “desperately” for donors.
Viet Duc, a top hospital in Hanoi, reported around 1,000 brain dead patients every year. Only 26 have donated their organs the past five years.
“Many patients have died in the wait as the number of donors is very small,” Tien said, as cited by news website VietNamNet.
The minister said the donation pool could be much bigger, and every new donor can save several lives.
“You can turn the loss of one family into the joy for many others,” she said.