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Shanghai's hospitals picked for new national organ donation system

(Shanghai Daily)

09:03, December 12, 2012

Shanghai's government yesterday announced the first group of 17 city-level hospitals to carry out human organ collection and transplants.

The announcement marked an official start of work under a national organ donation system in the city.

Under the system, all information about donated organs and patients with organ failure will be put into the national organ distribution and sharing network to ensure organs are given to the patients in the most need on the waiting list.

The measure is expected to change the previous organ distribution situation to a more scientific and fair use of organs.

"Previously, hospitals got organs through their own sources and just used these organs for their own patients," said Dr Fu Zhiren, director of Changzheng Hospital's organ transplantation department. "Sometimes their own patients who are not the most critically sick got the organs, while other patients in more urgent conditions don't have an organ."

He said a national organ distribution network open to all qualified hospitals and patients can ensure a better use of limited organs.

Shanghai has established an expert commission for human organ donation to guide donation and transplants and a city-level expert diagnosis team, which will be involved in death evaluations of donors.

The national organ donation system run by the Red Cross Society of China was established in 2010 and was put into a pilot operation in 16 regions in March 2010.

The system will help China gradually phase out its reliance on organs from executed prisoners, Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu said in Guangdong Province last month. By September 30 of this year, 38 domestic hospitals had obtained 1,279 organs from 465 donors in the system, Huang said.

The national trial has adopted the criteria of donations after both cardiac death and brain death. Shanghai will also follow such criteria and the death of each possible donor will be evaluated by his or her own doctors and the expert team.

China passed an organ transplant law in 2007, which has greatly strengthened supervision of organ transplants. However, the law failed to solve problems such as questionable sources, an acute shortage of organs, and illegal organ transactions.

About 1.5 million people are on the waiting list for organ transplants in China each year, but only about 10,000 of them get a donated organ due to the lack of organs.

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