Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Hangzhou Resolution commits China to ethical organ donation

Just a month ago, Xia Qiang, a surgeon from Shanghai Renji Hospital, and his team made history by completing the first two transplant operations using organs donated by residents in the city.
Such operations are taking place with increasing frequency across China, showing a determination to move from sourcing organs from executed prisoners to acquiring organs from citizens willing to donate.
China is the top country in the world in terms of carrying out organ transplants as well as for having the most patients waiting for transplants. According to official figures from Chinese health authorities, more than 1.3 million patients wait for organ transplants each year while only 10,000 are lucky enough to get one. The rest try their luck in the underground black market.
Prior to 2010, the majority of Chinese organ transplants came from executed prisoners, prompting criticism from the international community.
At an organ transplant congress held by Chinese health authorities in early November in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, Huang Jiefu, former vice minister of the Ministry of Health and director of the China Organ Transplant Committee (OTC), announced that China was undertaking reform of the organ transplant system. Its aim was to build an organ donation and transplant system that fits China's actual conditions as well as the principles of the World Health Organization.
"We will strive to promote voluntary donation among citizens to gradually reduce dependence on executed prisoners," Huang said, according to news portal caixin.com.
A total of 169 hospitals nationwide approved by China's health authority to carry out organ transplants signed a document entitled the "Hangzhou Resolution" at the conference.
It stipulated that all organ transplants must strictly abide by related laws and regulations and all organ sources must comply with medical ethics and the principle of voluntary donation.
To prevent organ trading and abuse of power due to the scarcity of organs, the health authority released a human organ donation acquisition and distribution management regulation in August that required all 169 qualified organ transplant hospitals to use the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS).
"We require that all organ transplant hospitals ensure an open, fair and transparent organ harvesting and distribution process," Huang said.
According to the Red Cross Society of China, by the end of October this year 1,161 Chinese citizens donated 3,175 organs, saving more than 3,000 lives since the country launched the pilot donation project in 2010.
However, most of these cases were distributed in certain provinces such as Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, Hunan and Hubei while other provinces and major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, where demand was greatest, saw barely any impact.
The project has now been widely promoted across the nation. Just 20 days after the regulation was implemented in August, Shanghai carried out its very first successful organ donation and transplant case after applying the COTRS system.
"The situation has begun to change. This is a promising start. Although small and still facing many difficulties, it has significant meaning," said Xia Qiang.
Source: Global Times

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