More hospitals to conduct human organ transplants

2017-05-08 02:00:26 GMT2017-05-08 10:00:26(Beijing Time) Global Times

China will allow more hospitals to engage in human organ transplants, and experts are putting together an amendment to keep the country's regulations on organ transplants up to date, officials said.

China will add another 300 hospitals within five years to conduct organ transplants, up from 173 hospitals, said Huang Jiefu, who initiated the country's organ transplant reform, at a conference on Sunday in Beijing.

China is pushing forward its organ transplant reforms after the February summit at the Vatican on organ trafficking and transplant tourism, said Guo Yanhong, with the department of medical administration under the Ministry of Health.

Chinese representatives, headed by Huang, attended for the first time the Pontifical Academy Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism at the Vatican in February 2017.

Huang told the Global Times that he had proposed to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference an amendment to the Regulations on Human Organ Transplantation, which took effect 10 years ago.

"The current regulation is no longer suitable for the country's current organ transplant environment," Huang said, adding that "a more suitable name of the regulation would be 'regulations on organ donation and transplantation,' as donation is key."

Huang said the amendment should detail the role of individuals and organizations, including the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, the Red Cross Society of China, organ procurement organizations (OPO), and the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS).

OPOs are responsible for the procurement of human organs from deceased donors. COTRS is a computer-based system to distribute donated organs. The Red Cross Society of China will "participate in and promote" organ donations as well as supervise the process.

"COTRS is the way forward - having seen it successfully implemented in several cities. The implementation of a computerized waitlist to allocate organs [regardless of gender, ethnicity or social status] is a principle of the World Health Organization," Francis Delmonico, former president of the Transplantation Society and Harvard Medical School professor, who participated in Sunday's conference, told the Global Times.

However, Huang said it's unclear when the amendment will be included.

Guo said 1,545 people donated their organs in China in the first four months of 2017, an increase of 35 percent year on year.

China processed nearly 10,000 organ donations in 2016, ranking first in Asia and third in the world in terms of the annual average number of organ donations.

However, China has only donated 2.98 organs per million, much lower than the 19 of the EU and 26 in the US. In 2016, some 300,000 people were in need of an organ transplant.

To encourage people to donate, Hou Fengzhong, deputy director of the China Organ Donation Administrative Center (CODAC), said that potential donors can register via WeChat and the CODAC website at their convenience.

Hou noted that they could also go to savelife.org.cn, an organ donation registration platform managed by the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Foreigners can register with their passport number at savelife.org.cn.

But he warned that registration doesn't always lead to donating, as the organs have to undergo strict medical and ethical evaluation.

Huang said both Chinese people and the government are happy after the Vatican summit, as China had its voice heard on organ transplants.

However, he warned that we should ignore rumors of organ harvesting in China.

Rumors will fly no matter what you do, according to Huang and Delmonico, while the latter said he is encouraged by China's revolution in organ transplants, and that paying too much attention to rumors will only "undermine your efforts" to do the right thing.

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