'New page' turned as China sees rapid increase in organ donations
The total number of organ transplant surgeries performed in China is expected to reach 15,000 this year, which would be a record high and an increase of nearly 50 percent over last year.
After the abolishment of procuring organs for transplant from executed prisoners since the beginning of last year, the number of organs donated after death has increased rapidly, senior officials and experts said.
Last year, about 10,000 organ transplant surgeries were performed nationwide, Huang Jiefu, former minister of health and director of the China Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, said at the 2016 China International Organ Donation Conference in Beijing on Monday.
The surgery totals include transplants using organs from living donors.
The number of people who donated organs after death in China this year reached 2,950 by the end of September, which is an increase of 50 percent compared with the same period last year, said Wang Haibo, director of the China Organ Transplant Response System, which is responsible for organ distribution and sharing in China.
This could make China the second in the world, behind the United States, in the number of organ donors by the end of the year, he said.
Statistics offered by the system also showed the total number of donated organs harvested after death last year in China exceeded 7,700, more than the total numbers for 2013 and 2014 combined.
"A new page has been turned" with China's establishment of a transparent organ donation and transplant system, Huang said.
China stopped using organs from executed prisoners on Jan 1 last year, when voluntary donations became the only legal source for transplants.
"Much corruption existed in the allocation of organs procured from executed prisoners," Huang said.
"The Chinese government has adopted a zero-tolerance attitude toward such behavior," he added.
To improve and better regulate procurement and allocation of organs, the Organ Procurement and Allocation Committee of the Chinese Hospital Association was established on Sunday.
The committee will "play a role of management and supervision over the sector and formulate related standards", Huang said.
Marti Manyalich, president of the International Society of Organ Donation and Procurement, said China has made great progress in promoting organ donations and transplants in the past few years.
The ratio of organ donors among Chinese, which is now more than 2 per million population, could increase tenfold in the next 10 years, which means China could nearly meet the demand for organ transplants, he added.
China can make quicker progress in organ donations and transplants by learning from some other countries, such as Spain, which has one of the world's top organ donation ratios, he said.
Like many other countries, China faces a severe shortage of organs, with about 300,000 people waiting for organ transplant surgeries each year, according to Xinhua News Agency.