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Lack of Donated Kidneys Afflicts Chinese Patients
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About 90 percent of Chinese patients suffering renal diseases cannot receive timely transplant operations due to the lack of donated kidneys, according to statistics from the country's organ transplant society.

The statistics showed that an average of 8,000 kidney transplants are performed every year in China, which satisfies less than 10 percent of the demands.

Due to the shortage of donated kidneys, most of the patients have to rely on costly hemodialysis treatment to sustain their lives, said Chen Jianghua, a professor with the Nephrology Center of the First Affiliated Hospital of the Zhejiang University, east China's Zhejiang Province.

A patient may only spend 40,000 yuan (US$ 5,000) on a kidney transplant and other services when being hospitalized, but hemodialysis will cost up to 70,000 yuan (US$ 8,750) to 100,000 yuan (US$ 12,500), Chen said. Chen's hospital alone receives about 70,000 patients with kidney problems each year and performs hemodialysis for 40,000 times of them.

The renal disease has edged into the world's top five lethal chronic diseases over the past decade. In China, it affects eight to ten percent of people aged above 40.

China is now under a tight schedule to issue its regulations on human organ transplants. Under the new regulations, a new organization will be in charge of registering and allocating donated organs, and evaluating the quality of the organ transplant surgery.

Only the top-tier hospitals - usually located in provincial capitals - will be allowed to perform organ transplants once they have been approved by the Ministry of Health. It remains to be seen whether exceptions will be made in emergency cases.

Currently, China has no clear laws on human organ transplants. This has resulted in transplants being carried out by unqualified doctors with substandard medical equipment, leading to the death of some patients. It is also widely claimed that hospitals are preoccupied with the quantity of organ transplants rather than the quality.

The ministry's statistics indicate that China performed 34,726 organ transplants from 2000 to 2004, and at the end of 2004, 599 medical institutions did liver, kidney, heart and lung transplants.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2006)

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