Rules banning human organs trade go into effect

Updated: 2007-05-01 21:39

China's first set of regulations on human organ transplant, which prohibits organizations and individuals from trading human organs in any form, went into effect on Tuesday.

Any doctor found to be involved in human organ trade will have their practitioner license revoked, according to the regulations issued by the State Council, China's cabinet. Clinics will be suspended from doing organ transplant operations for at least three years. Fines are set at between eight to ten times the value of the outlawed trade, the regulations say.

Officials convicted of trading in human organs will be sacked and kicked out of the government.

China has carried out organ transplants for more than 20 years and is the world's second largest performer of transplants after the United States, with about 5,000 transplants operated each year.

Most organs are donated by ordinary Chinese at death after the voluntary signing of a donation agreement.

But the country faces a huge gap between the demand for functional organs and the supply of donations. About 1.5 million patients need organ transplants each year, but only 10,000 can find organs, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health.

The regulations stipulate that human organ transplants should respect the principle of free will. And it is made a crime to harvest organs without the owner's permission or will.

Human organ transplants are defined as the process of taking a human organ or part of a human organ -- such as the heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas -- from a donor and transplanting it into a patient's body to replace their sick or damaged organ.

The regulations do not apply to transplants of human tissue, such as cells, cornea and marrow.

The set of regulations comprises 32 articles in five chapters, including human organ donations, human organ transplants, legal responsibilities and supplementary points.

The regulations clarify strict supervision and control for the few medical institutions that are allowed to perform organ transplants, and set rules to standardize procedures so as to prevent potential human rights abuses.

According to the regulations, every transplant must be approved by an ethics committee set up in the medical institution. A designated mechanism will ensure that medical institutions are competent. Unqualified institutions will be ordered to exit the market.

Along with the regulations on organ transplant, a new set of regulations to promote employment opportunities for China's 83 million handicapped people also took effect on Tuesday.

The regulations issued in February by the State Council require that handicapped people make up no less than 1.5 percent of the work force of government departments, enterprises and institutions.

Handicapped employees must be given equal promotion opportunities and equal salaries and social insurance.

Statistics show that China has 82.96 million handicapped people but only 22.66 million are employed. The number of handicapped people increases by 300,000 a year.

Government departments, institutions and enterprises that employ more handicapped people will enjoy preferential taxation and other policies, said the regulations.

Self-employed handicapped will enjoy preferential treatment in taxation and other management and registration charges. They can also get small loans when starting their own businesses, according to the regulations.

Also on Tuesday, a series of ministry regulations went into effect, covering food safety, supply of drinkable water and advertisement of new drugs.

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