The Shanghai Red Cross reported yesterday that during the first nine months of this year, 2,049 people registered with the organization as organ donors, an increase of 45 percent compared to the same period last year.
The city now has 14,096 people listed in the local Red Cross' "body bank," which was established in 1987, Red Cross officials said.
Since 2,119 people on the list have died, their organs have been used for transplants or their bodies have been used for medical research in accordance with their wishes.
City health officials attributed the increase to the city's Body Donation Regulation, the nation's first such regional law. They also conceded that getting people to agree to donate organs or tissue remains a difficult task, since many still hold to the traditional belief that a corpse should be kept "whole."
"After the regulation took effect on March 1, we received many visits and telephones queries. Since then, 1,930 people have registered as donors as of September 30," said Yang Junyi, director of the Shanghai Red Cross' organization and training department.
The regulation strengthens the Red Cross' efforts to sign up donors and to conduct public education drives as well as indicating the backing of local government, Yang said.
Prior to the regulation, officials complained that often the children of donors refused to have medical authorities take custody of the bodies, since permitting a parent's body to be used for medical purposes is considered by many Chinese to be "unfilial behavior."
Lin Zhengtai, an official responsible for corpses used in medical research and teaching at Fudan University, said: "We should have more bodies. The wishes of many old people haven't been honored because their children disagree. Before the regulation, every donor had to have the permission of a member of his or her immediate family."
The new regulation now also allows any close relative or friend of the donor, the employer or even the neighborhood committee and officials of the donor's senior citizens' home to grant permission.
(eastday.com December 25, 2001)