China / Society

China's organ donation system overhaul a success: People's Daily

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-23 16:36
BEIJING -- The modernization of China's organ donation system was lauded by the People's Daily Tuesday, in a commentary following an international organ transplant conference that closed in Hong Kong on Monday.

The article, run by the Communist Party of China's flagship newspaper, said, "China's decade-long donation and transplant reform has gone through hardships and the increase in voluntary organ donations was achieved through perseverance and long-term efforts."

The central government began to overhaul the system in 2010, decreeing that organs may only come from the deceased and in 2015 the practice of harvesting of organs from prisoners was banned, making voluntary donation the only legal source of organs.

In 2011, the unauthorized trading of organ was criminalized after being included in an amendment to the Criminal Law, and a new system for organ management and distribution was launched in 2013 to better regulate donations.

Since 2007, China has apprehended 32 intermediaries involved in organ trade, arrested 158 criminal suspects, investigated 17 medical institutions and closed 13 underground operation theaters.

In August 2015, China also published its first national guideline on organ donation to raise public awareness and support for the cause, as traditional belief holds that organ removal after death desecrates a corpse.

"Effective measures taken by China have safeguarded the rights of organ donors and recipients and saved the lives of countless patients with terminal diseases," the newspaper said.

In the first half of 2016, China has completed 1,795 organ removals, up 45 percent compared to the same period last year. The figure was 2,766 last year, which exceeded the number in 2013 and 2014 combined. At present, China's annual average number of organ donation ranks first in Asia and third around the world.

However, the paper noted, "some organizations with ulterior motives disregard the progress made, and use the sacred cause as a tool to smear and demonize the image of China."

Speculation that 100,000 transplants were performed per year using organs from executed prisoners is an insult to the intelligence of transplant professionals and to the sacrifice of the donors and their families in China, said Huang Jiefu, director of China's National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and former vice minister with the Ministry of Health, at the 26th International Congress of the Transplantation Society held in Hong Kong.

China performed 10,057 organ transplants last year, around 8.38 percent of the global total, Huang explained at the conference.

The number matches China's use of immunosuppressive agents, given to patients after transplant surgery, he noted, adding China accounted for some 8 percent of the global immunosuppressant market.
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