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Thursday, August 27, 2009

China starts organ donation system to beat trafficking

Beating the pirates! Seems like China's main mode of organ donations has been coming from executed criminals. Now that's food for thought. That's really making the best out of everything isn't it? This is a pretty positive step forward for the recipients of such organ implants - a 'proper' national organ donation system.

"Nearly 1.5 million people in China need organ transplants, but every year, only 10,000 people can get one, according to the Health Ministry's website."


China starts organ donation system to beat trafficking
It also aims to cut dependence on organs from executed criminals
Source - Straits Times 27 August 2009

BEIJING: China has launched its first national organ donation system in a bid to crack down on organ trafficking. It also aims to create another source of organs for transplants, other than executed prisoners who currently make up the majority of donors.

Executed criminals account for 65 per cent of organ donors, the state-run newspaper China Daily said yesterday, in an unusual admission of the prevalence of the practice.

'(Executed prisoners) are definitely not a proper source for organ transplants,' Vice-Health Minister Huang Jiefu told the paper.

Nearly 1.5 million people in China need organ transplants, but every year, only 10,000 people can get one, according to the Health Ministry's website.

The shortage means that desperate patients bid up the price, and contribute to corruption and unfairness in organ allocation.

'Transplants should not be a privilege for the rich,' Mr Huang said.

The new donation system has been piloted in 10 provinces and cities - namely Liaoning, Zhejiang, Shandong, Guangdong and Jiangxi, as well as the cities of Tianjin, Shanghai, Xiamen, Nanjing and Wuhan.

The system - launched on Tuesday - will encourage post-death donations, and start a fund to provide financial aid to the needy and to donors' families.

The Red Cross Society of China will link possible donors with recipients, and make public a waiting list of patients to increase transparency in allocating organs.

'The system is in the public interest and will benefit patients, regardless of social status and wealth, in terms of fairness in organ allocation and better procurement,' Mr Huang said.
The new system is China's latest step to better regulate organ transplants.

China's 2007 organ transplant law bans organ trading and trafficking as well as 'transplant tourism' for foreigners.

However, illegal transplants from living donors, and cases of foreigners paying huge sums for transplants in China, are frequently reported by the media. Recipients sometimes pay up to 200,000 yuan (S$42,200) for a kidney, not including other medical services.
Chinese law allows organs to be donated by living people only in the case of blood relatives and spouses or people who are considered 'emotionally connected'.

But organ middlemen often forge documents by making donors, who are desperately in need of money, appear on paper as 'emotionally connected' to the recipients.

Living transplants accounted for up to 60 per cent of total transplants last year, a jump from 15 per cent in 2006, said Dr Chen Zhonghua, an organ transplant specialist at Tongji Hospital in Shanghai.