Doctors complete 1st live death-row organ donation

The China Post news staff

The first-ever organ removal operation on a live death-row inmate has been conducted successfully after the inmate in question donated his kidney to his sister with an operation conducted in New Taipei City yesterday, the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital announced yesterday. Doctors removed one kidney from the condemned criminal, Cheng Chin-wen (鄭金文), at around 11 a.m. yesterday morning before transplant surgery on Cheng’s elder sister was completed in the afternoon, said Chu Shu-hsun (朱樹勳), superintendent of the hospital. The transplant was performed with the latest microinvasive technology and the donor only has to be hospitalized for a week, he said.

The recovering period for Cheng’s sister, who previously suffered from a life-threatening condition and receives kidney dialysis two or three times a week, will take approximately two weeks, Chu added. Since the donor in question is a death-row inmate, Chu said the whole kidney removal surgery was conducted under the tight watch of prison guards. Chu gave high praise to Cheng for his donation, saying that the inmate should be lauded for his unselfish act, no matter what he did before. He also noted that there are thousands of patients in Taiwan suffering through the tedious and painstaking wait for an organ transplant, so he believes it is not a bad thing for death-row inmates to donate their organs to those in need. The 48-year-old Cheng filed a petition three months ago to serve as a living organ donor to his sister. The case had previously been approved by the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health. The hospital’s medical ethics committee approved the case Nov. 23.

Cheng, along with his accomplices, was convicted of strangling two debt collectors to death in 2004 and burying their bodies in the woods in Keelung. He was sentenced to death in June.