Organ donation system is not on agenda: official

08:45, May 11, 2011      

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China isn't ready to adopt a system that would urge citizens to agree while applying for a driver's license to give away their own organs if they should die in a car crash, a senior health official has said.

Deng Haihua, spokesman with the Ministry of Health, made the remarks at a regular press conference on Tuesday in response to reports saying China might adopt such a system to encourage voluntary organ donations. Media reports had previously quoted Huang Jiefu, vice-minister of health, as saying China will soon adopt the practice, which is now used in many other countries.

The need for such a system in China is evident to many. A severe shortage in organs means that fewer than one in a hundred patients who need a transplant here can get one, according to official statistics.

"The practice, of course, is becoming more common in the world and has a history showing it can encourage public organ donations," Deng told China Daily.

"But so far, the public's lack of a clear understanding of the issue and the absence of a good organ-donation system will prevent the practice from being carried out in the country any time soon."

Apart from the Ministry of Health, public security and transportation authorities and other government agencies need to cooperate toward the establishment of such a system, he noted.

"But there is no timetable for that now," he said, adding that much also depends on the public's being able to understand and accept the system.

Opinions on the issue vary.

Song Jingbo, a Beijing resident, told China Daily he would not sign up to be a donor while applying for a driver's license.

"I am not superstitious but it does make me uncomfortable to do that," he said.

Liu Yuqin, a bookseller in Xianyang, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, said she would welcome the introduction of such a system.

"It's not bad for people to at least have the option of becoming a potential organ donor," she said. "And the chances (that they will donate organs) are quite slim."

China has set itself goals of ensuring that organ transplants inside the country are performed safely and that the lives of more people who are awaiting the medical procedure are saved. To those ends, the country last year established a donation system aimed at making it easier for people to agree to give away their organs should they die.

So far, 49 organ donations have occurred under the fledging system, according to Deng.

In another development, Deng said the ministry would soon issue new standards mandating that salt in China be iodized.

The amount of iodine required will vary from region to region in accordance with local circumstances, he said.

Previous reports blamed a rise in diseases related to hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, on the consumption of too much iodine, especially in iodine-rich places.

Deng dismissed the reports, saying the majority of the population in China is not ingesting too much iodine.

Source: China Daily
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