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August 20, 2016

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Sharp rise in organ donations as China reforms transplant system

IN the first half of 2016, China recorded 1,795 cases of organ donation, up 45 percent over the same period last year, said an official.

“At present, China’s annual average number of organ donations ranks first in Asia and third around the world,” Wang Haibo, head of the China Organ Transplant Response System, told the 26th International Congress of the Transplantation Society (TTS) in Hong Kong on Thursday.

There were 2,766 donation cases in China last year, Wang said, which exceeded the total number in 2013 and 2014.

Drawing experts from all over the world to discuss the progress China has made, the TTS congress is the largest and most authoritative academic conference on organ transplantation.

Professionals from China and abroad noted that China’s regulations, systems and standards for organ transplantation have been brought into line with the guiding principles of the World Health Organization and other internationally recognized standards.

Li Bin, head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, said the country has created the “Chinese Mode” of organ donation when she delivered a speech through her representative.

“The Chinese government’s attitudes toward organ transplantation is consistent and clear,” Li said, adding that China aims to develop organ transplantation in a legal and legitimate way in all aspects, including organization, techniques, implementation, transportation and supervision.

The Chinese government began to actively promote the program after the country saw a drop in donations and banned the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners in 2015.

TTS president Philip O’Connell said he was pleased to see that China has ceased using organs from executed prisoners after a decade of reform, and that the TTS will continue to support Chinese people who need organ transplants.

Jose Nunez, a WHO officer in charge of global organ transplantation, said after visiting China several times that he was impressed with the changes implemented so far, and the determination of health professionals and the authorities to reform the system.

He said there were more than 2,700 voluntary donations and 10,500 patients in 2015, and an estimated increase of 40 to 50 percent this year.

“Transplantation reform on the basis of voluntary community-based deceased organ donation is the only legitimate source for deceased organ transplantation, aligned with the WHO guiding principles, consistent with the Declaration of Istanbul,” he said, adding that measures have been taken to ensure transparency, fairness and traceability throughout the process.

Li said representing a creative exploration of ways to develop organ transplantation, the “Chinese mode” may serve as an inspiration for the rest of the world, especially countries that face similar challenges as China in addressing the shortage of human organs.


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