China's State Council passed a draft regulation on Thursday, tightening controls on human organ transplants and setting parameters for live organ donations.
The draft regulation, approved during a regular meeting of the cabinet, says that any organization or individual is prohibited from harvesting organs donated by live Chinese citizen under 18 years old.
It also bans human organ trading, saying that the donation of organs should respect the will of donors and be conducted voluntarily.
In addition, the regulation offers protections for organ donors, recipients of organs, and medical staff, while instituting supervisory measures for medical institutes that perform transplants.
China is facing a medical quagmire due to an excess of patients in need of functional organs, coupled with limited donations. About 1.5 million patients require organ transplants each year, but only 10,000 can find a viable donor, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health.
The draft regulation was written in accordance with standard global medical ethics and the World Health Organization's basic rules on human organ transplants, says a statement issued by the State Council on Thursday.
Most organs in China are donated by people upon their death after signing a voluntary agreement. Medical experts believe that if doctors were allowed to harvest organs from patients declared "brain-dead," the organ supply could be increased significantly.
However, the traditional Chinese view of "living till the last breath" has prevented this type of practice from being legalized.
(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2007)