According to the report of China Daily, China has pledged to abolish the practice of taking transplant human organs from condemned prisoners within three to five years, a senior health official said Thursday.
China is creating a national organ donation system to reduce its reliance on organ donations from death row inmates and encourage donations from the public, Huang Jiefu, vice minister of health, told a conference in east China’s city of Hangzhou.
To achieve this goal, trial systems have been launched in 16 of the Chinese mainland’s 31 provincial-level regions, Huang said.
“The pledge to abolish organ donations from condemned prisoners represents the resolve of the government,” he said.
The measure is part of a new regulation that will play a vital role in banning the sale of organs and putting a stop to practices that violate the ethics and medical standards of organ transplants, officials said.
The huge demand caused problems
Only about 130 people on the mainland have signed up to donate their organs since 2003, according to research on the promotion of organ donation after death. However, Sources claimed that at least 2 million patients in China need organ transplants each year, but only 20,000 transplants can be carried out because of the shortage of donated organs.
There are too many hospitals performing organ transplants, and many of them are not qualified to do so.
Managers of many small hospitals invite doctors from other hospitals to carry out one or two organ transplants and then claim they are able to provide the service in order to attract more patients. There are currently 500 hospitals in China conducting liver transplants. There are only 100 hospitals performing the same operation in the United States.
Health officials have said insufficient organ donations by the public mean that the majority of transplanted organs in China come from executed prisoners – but only with prior consent.
That the rights of death-row prisoners to donate is fully respected and written consent from them is required.
But “Corruption can arise during the process,” Qian Jianmin said, chief transplant surgeon with the Shanghai Huashan Hospital, said hospitals performing transplants not only treat patients getting organs from executed prisoners, but have to deal with other levels of government, including the justice department.
The fungal infection rates and bacterial infection rates for condemned prisoners’ organs are usually very high; therefore, the long-term survival rates for people with transplanted organs in China are always below those of people in other countries.
Some just ignore legal procedures regarding organ donations from executed prisoners and make a fat profit, Huang said.
All costs are passed on to patients. Sometimes the recipient pays up to 200,000 yuan ($29,000) for a kidney, not including other medical services.
China has advocated the prudent use of the death penalty over recent years, which has led to a decrease in organ donations from condemned prisoners.
Efforts China made
China has been making efforts to improve its regulations on organ transplants.
The first time a Chinese health authority had set up a special committee and taken measures to help regulate organ transplants was in July 1, 2006. It was mandatory for all organ transplant operations in China to be discussed with and approved by a medical science and ethics committee.
Earlier in 2007, China’s State Council, or cabinet, issued its first regulations on human organ transplants, banning organizations and individuals from trading human organs in any form, plus someone considered “emotionally connected.”
China launched a national organ donation system to help find more willing donors who didn’t know how to donate in 2009, in a bid to gradually shake off its long-time dependence on executed prisoners as a major source of organs for transplants and as part of efforts to crack down on organ trafficking.
Other goals include preventing organ tourism, improving transplant quality, better defining donors’ rights and satisfying patients’ needs for transplants in an ethical manner.