'Spring arrives' for donation of organs

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Organ donation and transplantation is on the upswing in China.

So far, 519 Hong Kong residents and 50 Macao residents have received donated organs on the Chinese mainland since the China Organ Transplant Response System was introduced in 2013.

Last month, the National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee signed an organ distribution and sharing agreement with Macao health authorities, greatly easing the organ shortage and benefiting local patients in the special administrative region, said Wang Haibo, director of the system.

Similar negotiations are underway with Hong Kong and Taiwan, Wang said in remarks during the China International Organ Donation Congress, which was held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, over the weekend.

Under the rules of the organ transplant system, patients must meet standards of medical need. The system must also be fair and open.

Huang Jiefu, chairman of the National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, said China is now in the process of creating a new model for the transplantation of donated organs in line with the World Health Organization's guiding principles, and it's sharing its experience with the rest of the world.

Voluntary donations by residents after death are currently the only source for organ transplantation in China, said Huang, a former vice-minister of health. He noted that organ donation and transplantation in the country "conforms with ethical, open and transparent requirements".

"China now strictly bans any illegal trafficking and trading of human organs," he added.

Huang forecast that the number of organ donors on the mainland would continue to grow in the years to come.

"Many people said winter for the cause of organ transplantation in China had come when the central government banned harvesting of organs from condemned prisoners in early 2015," Huang said. "I said spring has arrived. And the fast-growing number of Chinese residents who would like to donate their organs after death has now proved I am right."

According to official statistics, the number of Chinese people who donate organs after death is expected to surpass 5,200 this year, compared with 4,080 last year. The figure was 2,776 in 2015, Huang said.

China is expected to replace the United States as the country with the most organ donations and transplants in 2020, he added.

The number of organ donors in the US last year topped 9,000, while Spain had more than 2,000.

Jose R. Nunez, an official in charge of organ transplantation at the WHO, said voluntary donations by residents after death is the only channel in China that's in line with the WHO's principles.

The country has introduced many effective measures to ensure openness, transparency and justice in distribution and transplantation, and its achievements have been obvious, he said.

The congress in Guangzhou, which brought China toward the center of the world stage in organ transplantation, was organized by the National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation.

More than 500 officials, professors and experts in organ donation and transplantation from home and abroad attended.

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