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Organ donors' families 'need financial help'

(China Daily)

09:28, September 22, 2012

Provincial authorities should work out a system to provide financial assistance to the families of organ donors, Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu said on Friday.

Huang's comments came at a conference attended by representatives of all 164 hospitals in China qualified to conduct organ transplants.

Huang said a system would help counteract organ trafficking.

Among the 16 areas to pilot the organ donation program launched by the Ministry of Health and the Red Cross Society of China in 2010, Zhejiang and Shandong provinces, and Tianjin municipality are among those that have established their own systems to compensate donors' families.

Wang Ping, director of the relief and health department of the Red Cross Society of China, said that such financial assistance is necessary.

"China, as a developing country that has 1.3 billion people, still has a limited level of public healthcare insurance.

"About 90 percent of the donors' families need assistance to ease their financial burden," said Wang.

"Most experts in discussions on such assistance think it is necessary, and totally different from organ trafficking."

By the end of August, 53 people had voluntarily donated their organs in Zhejiang province, according to Gao Xiang, vice-executive of the Red Cross Society of China Zhejiang Branch.

"The branch and the financial authorities of the province offered the family of each donor 20,000 yuan ($3,171) in compensation and a further 14,000 yuan to help pay for the funeral service," he said.

Financial assistance paid to the families of donors does not exceed 50,000 yuan. "It's very limited. But it shows the humanitarian spirit of the Red Cross," he said.

Yang Guangning, an organ donation coordinator for the Red Cross Society of China Shandong Branch, agreed.

"This assistance is meant to provide humanitarian support instead of obviously improving the financial condition of the family," he said.

More than 15,000 people have registered for organ donations since the trial system began in March 2010.

The pilot program has seen 419 people donating 1,136 organs by Sept 15, which have saved more than 1,000 lives, according to figures released at the conference.

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