HONG KONG – Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee decried an unprecedented increase in the number of withdrawal requests to the city’s organ donation system on Tuesday, adding that police would look into questionable situations.
According to the administration, approximately 5,800 withdrawal applications have been received by the city’s centralized organ donation registration system in the five months since December, when the government broached the prospect of establishing an organ transplant mutual aid program with mainland China. More than half of the withdrawal applications were found to be invalid, either because they were duplicates or because they were from people who had never opted in.
Lee called those who withdrew their applications without ever registering suspicious during a regular press briefing.
“I strongly condemn those who seek to undermine this noble system that saves lives through organ donation,” he stated. “This is a shameful act.”
The government also released a strong statement Monday, saying that it could not rule out the possibility that a tiny number of persons attempted to withdraw in order to damage the system’s credibility and create administrative load. It stated that a small number of people had twisted the value of organ donation by pushing the idea that donors should investigate the identity of the recipients online, without mentioning any platforms or persons. Some allegedly pressured others to leave the system, according to the report.
Some users were dubious of the suggested approach on Hong Kong’s Reddit-like forum LIHKG, where pro-democracy supporters debated strategies for the 2019 anti-government campaign. Others shared a link to the register’s withdrawal page.
The notion was raised by the government after a baby girl received the city’s first transplant in December using an organ donated from mainland China. It stated that the proposed organ support service might be triggered immediately if medical workers were unable to connect a given organ with a qualified patient locally.
The political dispute over the proposed mutual help program mirrored some Hong Kongers’ mistrust of China’s health-care system, as well as their resentment of Beijing, which has used a sweeping national security statute to crack down on the city’s pro-democracy movement.