Ma Qichang, a 32-year-old uremic patient from central China's Henan province, has a dream to open a small restaurant. But for that he needs his life, which may soon come to an end if he doesn't get a kidney transplant.
"If I can get a new kidney soon, I will open an eatery. My sister will handle the accounts, and my parents will help out in the kitchen," Ma told China Daily yesterday from Dengzhou, his hometown.
Ma was hopeful when doctors at the Zhengzhou No 3 People's Hospital finally zeroed in on a kidney match after searching for almost a year. Ma's brother Ma Qizheng, who is in jail, agreed to donate his kidney for the transplant.
But Ma's hopes were shattered when he received a call from the Cangzhou prison last month, saying inmates were not allowed to donate organs.
Ma Qizheng has been lodged in the prison since 2006, doing a six-year jail term for banditry.
Zeng Xianbing, director of publicity department of Hubei prison administration told the Beijing News that the Ministry of Justice had "introduced a special regulation on prisoners donating their organs in 2006".
"But till the government elaborates the regulation, we cannot allow prisoners to donate organs," Zeng told the paper.
"We feel sorry to hear of his (the prisoner's) brother's illness. But we cannot break the rules.
"We have informed the ministry of the situation and are waiting for a response."
No one from the Ministry of Justice and Hubei prison administration were available for comment yesterday.
Ge Yongchao, a doctor at the Zhengzhou No 3 People's Hospital said Ma needed a dialysis eight to 12 times every month to survive.
"A dialysis costs about 400 yuan ($58), and is not easy for poor people like Ma to afford.
"The sooner he goes in for a kidney transplant surgery, the better it will be for his health," Ge said. So far, Ma's family has spent more than 130,000 yuan on his treatment.
Wang Zuofu, a consultant for the China Law Society opined that as long as a person, even if he or she is a prisoner, voluntarily wants to donate his organ, there is no law that can object to it.
"What worries the prison authorities is the affect on the inmate after the surgery," Wang said.
On July 13, 2006, Li Fusheng, serving time in Cangnan prison for fraud, successfully donated his kidney to his 23-year-old daughter Chang Junhuan in Cangzhou, Hebei province, the Beijing news reported on Tuesday.