HK performs first paired kidney transplants

The Hospital Authority on Wednesday announced that it performed the first paired kidney donation transplants in Hong Kong over the summer, with two patients with end-stage renal failure receiving kidneys from each other’s families.

At a press conference, the authority said the two relatives couldn’t donate kidneys to their own family member because they weren’t compatible.

But doctors paired the donors up under a swap arrangement, and the operations were carried out at Princess Margaret Hospital and Queen Mary Hospital in August.

The two donors and two kidney recipients were all discharged by the Mid-Autumn Festival, the authority said.

Dr Samuel Fung, who chairs the authority’s paired kidney donation working group, said the scheme offers another shot for those waiting for a transplant.

“We heard from the first pair that they were waiting for a long time… After the successful operations, they are already discharged and able to have a new life,” he said.

There are around 2,300 people in need of a kidney transplant in Hong Kong. The average waiting time to receive one is 54 months.

Dr Mak Siu-ka, the authority’s central renal committee chairman, said he hopes news of the first paired donation will encourage more people to join the scheme that has been in place since late 2018.

“For the donor, he or she will be donating a precious organ to a stranger. To the patients themselves, they are receiving an organ from a stranger. So I believe you might be able to imagine… this step is quite a hurdle for most of the patients,” he said.

“That’s why we do hope that this positive case will boost the confidence among patients who are still wondering whether they should get into the pool [for matching donations].”

Mak said there are currently 26 pairs of recipients and donors in this pool.