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August 31, 2010

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Plan on organ donations soon

SHANGHAI is working on a detailed regional plan under a national pilot program to better manage organ donations, prevent illegal organ sales and make sure organs are given to patients most in need of transplants, officials with the Shanghai Red Cross said yesterday.

The plan will force all hospitals to report their patients and demands for organs to the local Red Cross, which lists patients based on the urgency of their need for organs.

Currently, organ distribution is mainly run by hospitals, which provide organ transplant service and get the organs through their own network.

The program, authorized by the Red Cross Society of China, is being carried out in 11 cities and provinces; each tasked with designing a new post-death organ donation system in line with local situation and cultural background. So far trials have started in Tianjin City and the provinces of Guangdong, Liaoning and Zhejiang.

After a one-year trial, the central government will set up a national system on the basis of the experiences of each participant city/province.

"Though Shanghai is still in the planning stage, we are on a tight schedule to make it as perfect and feasible as possible," said Zhou Xianglan, a director of the Shanghai Red Cross.

Officials said local authorities are careful about organ donation administration, since it is a new and challenging issue.

"Body donation has been running smoothly in the city for years but organ donation is different," Zhou said. "How to effectively collect the organs and give them to the most suitable patients in time are complicated issues."

Shanghai had its body donation in 1982. By last year, the city had received applications from some 28,300 people, of which some 5,200 had their wishes fulfilled.

Officials said Shanghai also receives application from expatriates for donating their body though no decision has been taken on expatriates' organ donations yet.

Presently, volunteers can register to donate their body for medical use and only the cornea from the eye for transplant. The new organ donation plan will allow the donation of key organs like heart, liver, lungs and kidneys.

Dr Fan Jia, a liver transplant expert and a member of the local pilot's expert commission, said the new system can better regulate the source and use of organs, while calling for better management of the organs. "Key organs like the liver must be taken five minutes after the heart stops, or they are useless."


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