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March 2, 2010

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More organ re-use on horizon

SHANGHAI'S Red Cross is considering a policy change that would enable people to posthumously donate a wider range of their organs for transplants.

At present, only corneas can be used for transplants. Otherwise, body donations are for medical research, teaching and clinical anatomy.

The Red Cross is formulating a legislative amendment to present to the Shanghai People's Congress that would change the current rules, which have been in effect since 2001.

"Compared with corneas, which can be useful four to six hours after death, many key organs must be taken minutes after the person is pronounced dead," Zhang Jin, an official from Shanghai Red Cross, said yesterday, the annual "Body Donation Day."

"We will cooperate with health authorities to regulate the proper procedure for a more scientific and regular practice," Zhang said.

Zhang said the Red Cross will analyze the proposed amendment this year for "Shanghai People's Congress, which is expected to do spot check next year and include the amendment into its follow-up legislation agenda."

As of last year, 28,386 residents had registered to donate either their bodies or corneas or both, and 5,201 people had realized their wishes.

Cai Xiaorong and Xu Yanlin are two young teachers from Shanghai Guangming Middle School. They both signed up last July to donate their body and corneas after death and took part in a memorial activity launched yesterday in Fushouyuan Cemetery, where a memorial hall and monument for body donors was located.

The activity is held every year on March 1 to pay tribute to those who gave their bodies to medical science.

"Such donation is very meaningful as I can help people who are in need," said Xu.

Li Hua, 68, whose parents both donated their bodies, also registered to donate her body and corneas.

"My parents donated their bodies after they passed away in 1992 and 1993," Li said. "I respected their choice and decided to follow them. I hope my corneas can help more blind people."

Red Cross officials said registration and donation are completely voluntary and they will ensure appropriate treatment to the body and respect to the deceased and family.


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