In his will, Yang Kaihui, 82, of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, declared his desire to donate his remains to the Leshan Medical School for helping students learn how to conduct autopsies. Last October, he asked his open-minded daughter, Yang Mengxian, to undertake the difficult formalities to ensure his wishes were observed.
There are more than 3,000 students in the Leshan Medical School, and, each year, it has to buy corpses from other parts of the country, as few citizens are willing to donate their bodies for teaching and scientific research, according to teachers at the school.
“The extreme shortage of corpses has hindered the teaching process,” said one professor. “Donating one’s remains for teaching purposes and for scientific research needs great courage in China, so Yang Kaihui’s decision is highly commendable.”
Donating remains has become an urgent topic in the country, and up till now, the state has no relevant regulations and administrative system for this purpose. Hence, a newly issued local regulation has broken new ground.
The Shanghai Municipal Regulation on Remains (human organ) Donation, China’s first local regulation of its kind, has recently been endorsed by the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress.
The regulation, which will come into effect on March 1, 2001, gives close family members the right to donate the remains of deceased relatives to medical science if the person before death has so willed it.
However, the regulation insists that all the close relatives of the deceased must agree upon the donation unanimously.
The donation must be voluntary and gratuitous, and the donated remains must be used for medical education, research, clinical anatomy study and cornea transplant.
Shanghai started the promotion of human organ donation in 1982, and organ-receiving stations were set up in six medical universities and institutes. So far, more than 9,000 people have registered to donate their remains after death, and over 1,800 such donations have been made.
After the implementation of the new regulation, 13 Red Cross societies across the city will be able to receive donations.