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China's health ministry gives assurances on voluntary organ donation
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A spokesman with China's Ministry of Health Tuesday gave assurances organ donation is voluntary in China.

"Organ donation follows the principle of being voluntary and unpaid in China," said ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an. "A Chinese citizen enjoys the choice of whether or not to donate his or her organs to hospitals."

In response to a question whether China forced criminals facing capital punishment to donate organs, Mao said no organization or individual was allowed to "force, cheat or tempt" other people to donate their organs.

"In addition, donors must be fully capable of exercising their rights and express their will to donate in a written form," he said.

But he said donations were not meeting with the demand for organ transplants.

China imposed strict regulations on organ donations, including donations from criminals, and had tightened supervision of medical institutions licensed to conduct organ transplants, Mao said.

Late last month, the Red Cross Society of China and the Health Ministry announced the launch of an organ donation system in 10 provinces and cities in a pilot program to speed up transplant procedures.

Under the pilot plan, they will set up a registry system for donors and a distribution system for recipients.

By 2008, 86,800 kidney transplants, 14,643 liver transplants, 882 heart and lung transplants and more than 220 transplants of other organs had been carried out in China.

Official estimates indicate 1.5 million Chinese need organ transplants every year, but only 10,000 operations are performed because of a severe shortage of donors.

(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2009)

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