New hope blooms as organ donations soar

China | 27 Jul 2017

China appears on track to lead the world in organ transplants following its abandonment of using organs from executed prisoners.

Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, said voluntary civilian donations have gone from 30 in 2010 - the first year of a pilot program - to more than 5,500. That means 15,000 transplants this year.

The United States leads in transplants with about 28,000 people receiving organs each year. But present trends suggest "by 2020 China will become the No 1 country to perform organ transplantation," Huang said.

That is despite cultural barriers: family members can block a donation even by a willing giver, and people are adverse to registering as donors by ticking a box on drivers' licenses, considering it to be tempting fate.

Authorities are now partnering with Alibaba to allow to registrations in 10 seconds.

More than 210,000 Chinese have expressed a willingness to become donors, but that is a drop in the bucket in a population of 1.37 billion. More qualified transplant coordinators and doctors are also needed plus better links between 173 hospitals certified to perform operations, Huang said.

Huang also said China has adhered to a total ban on using organs from executed prisoners that went into effect in 2015 and is stamping out organ trafficking and "transplant tourism,"' including by limiting transplants to Chinese citizens.


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