Shanghai took a major step toward achieving its goal of becoming "Asia's medical center" yesterday with the opening of another organ transplantation center at Ruijin Hospital.
"Based on the rich medical resources of Shanghai No 2 Medical University and the city's medical field, we hope the center will contribute to the improvement of human organ transplantation," said Li Hongwei, hospital director.
In addition to liver and kidney transplants, the center will explore more difficult medical fields like intestinal, islet and pancreatic transplants. Multi-organ transplants such as liver-kidney and liver-small bowel are also under research.
In the 1970s, the hospital performed China's first onthotopic liver transplant and onthotopic heart transplant.
Last year, surgeons performed over 30 liver transplants and 80 kidney transplants with high patient survival rates.
The hospital also successfully finished a difficult operation called "split liver transplantation" in July 2002, which was listed as one of China's top 10 medical news stories of last year.
Two women patients suffering from serious liver diseases were sent to Ruijin Hospital, but doctors could only get one liver that successfully matched the pair.
To save both of them, doctors split the liver and planted a half into each of the two women's bodies. Both of the recipients survived and recovered well.
"The first success of this kind not only explored a new medical area, but also is of long-term meaning to solve the organ shortage problem," said Zhou Guangyi, a doctor with the hospital.
In China, many patients with various late-stage organ diseases cannot be saved due to a shortage of donated human organs. Donation has not been widely accepted or applied among the Chinese people.
Since the medical cost for organ transplantation is quite expensive, a special foundation called "Shanghai Ruijin Charity Medical Foundation" has been set up in cooperation with the Shanghai Charity Foundation.
The foundation has already collected over 2 million yuan (US$241,255).
During last year, around 500 organ transplants were performed in the city's hospitals, including People's No 1 Hospital, Zhongshan, Huashan, Changzheng, Chanhai, East Liver and Gallbladder hospitals.
Many transplantations are of an international standard, such as the partial lung transplant carried out at Shanghai Chest Hospital.
(China Daily February 18, 2003)