Taipei to give free funerals to organ donors

June 4th, 2008 - 7:48 am ICT by IANS  

Taipei, June 4 (DPA) The Taipei city government will offer free-of-charge funerals for people who have donated their organs as part of a bid to encourage people to sign organ-donation cards, a newspaper said Wednesday. The government passed the measure on holding free funeral for organ donors Tuesday. A health ministry funeral subsidy will go to the deceased who have donated their heart, kidney, liver and pancreas, but the city government plans to extend it to also cover those who have donated corneas, bones and skin, the Liberty Times reported.

If the organ donor is a Taipei citizen, the city government will hold a free-of-charge memorial service, issue a citation and publicly praise the deceased organ donor.

Taipei hopes that hospitals can put the city government in touch with the family members of the deceased who have donated organs.

It will be left up to family members to decide if the deceased person should be publicly praised for the organ donation.

Like many other countries, Taiwan faces a severe shortage of donated organs because Taiwanese traditionally believe one should be buried with the body intact so that the soul can go to heaven.

According to the Taiwan Organ Registry Matching Centre, there are 6,000 people on the waiting list for organ transplants, but each year there are only about 100 donated organs, which come mostly from road accident victims and other deceased people.

The lack of donated organs has prompted hundreds of Taiwan patients, mostly liver and kidney patients, to go to China each year for organ transplants. Taiwan’s health ministry discourages organ transplant trips to China because many of the organs transplanted in Chinese hospitals are allegedly harvested form executed prisoners.

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