Transplant system to go national

Updated: 2012-02-17 07:31

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China's organ donation system will be extended nationwide starting this year, said Huang Jiefu, deputy minister of health, on Thursday.

Currently, the trial system launched by the ministry and the Red Cross Society of China in 2009 is operating in 16 regions and is helping ease a severe shortage of organ donations for transplant, Huang said.

He said that 163 people had donated organs by the end of 2011.

An aid policy for donors' families would also soon be issued but "definitely not in the form of cash payment", Huang added.

Meanwhile, a nationwide organ allocation system started last April is connecting all organ procurement organizations and transplant hospitals on the mainland.

Under the system, patients waiting for a transplant can ask the doctor to put them on a waiting list, which helps ensure a proper and fair allocation of organ donations, said Wang Ping, director of the relief and health department at the Red Cross Society of China, which co-runs the system with the Ministry of Health.

"Without transparent and fair allocation, people won't donate," he said.

Previously, organs were allocated by each hospital, and wealthy patients tended to receive organs first.

Official annual statistics revealed that only 10,000 out of 1.5 million patients on the mainland who needed transplant surgery were operated on.

This situation has led to an illegal trade in organs and other irregularities, said health ministry spokesman Deng Haihua.

Since April, six hospitals licensed for organ transplants have been caught violating regulations regarding donors' relatives after the ministry carried out inspections in 18 provinces, Deng said.

There are 163 transplant centers authorized by the ministry.