Vietnam has opened its first national centre dedicated to co-ordinating human organ transplants.

The Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien says the centre at Viet Duc General Hospital in Hanoi is an important milestone for the Vietnamese health care service.

Professor Richard Allen, director of transplant services at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, has told Radio Australia's he welcomes the opening of the centre given the limited availability of dialysis service in Vietnam.

"Gradually, they're increasing their numbers of dialysis machines and keeping people with kidney failure alive through dialysis," Professor Allen said.

"But, there's a limit to the number of dialysis machines they can sustain.

"So, the next answer is to provide these patients fit enough for kidney transplants with a lot better lifestyle," he said.

Professor Allen, who has been working closely with staff at Viet Duc General Hospital to provide training and education for its organ transplantation program, says the potential for organ donation in Vietnam is enormous.

"They have four or five head injuries that result in deaths each day....They have over 12 000 road deaths a year," he said.

"It's about converting these people who die into donors.

"Vietnam has been very dependent upon their life donor program. Last year, there was a total of 13 deceased kidney organ transplants.

"They did about 170 life donor kidney transplants for a population of about 85 to 90 million people last year. It's still very low numbers," Professor Allen said.

He says the people in Vietnam need to be educated about organ transplantation and more importantly, trust the system.

"They have to have faith in the system that those organs will be allocated to people who need them and not the people with the most money, for example," Professor Allen said.

"The organ has to be seen as a community resource not a resource of an individual doctor or an individual hospital."

 

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