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Health body to ensure fairness in organ system

By Shan Juan  (China Daily)

08:11, July 11, 2013

Computerized distribution will be made compulsory nationwide

The top health authority has vowed to ensure compulsory use of a computerized system for the distribution of donated organs, thus ensuring fair allocation of organs to those in need.

A national computerized system, the China Organ Transplant Response System, was launched in 2010, but many hospitals have been slow to make use of it, relying instead on less systematic methods.

Deng Haihua, spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, announced the plan to enforce use of the system on Wednesday in response to media reports that questioned the fairness and transparency of the current system.

"All organ procurement organizations and transplant hospitals nationwide will be required to use the system for fair organ allocation," Deng said.

Nationwide, China has 164 organ procurement organizations, which operate within government recognized organ transplant hospitals.

However, to date only 38 of the organ procurement organizations have received donations via the official computerized system.

As of July 7, China had 918 public organ donations this year, said Gao Xinpu, a division director of the National Organ Donation Management Center under the Red Cross Society of China.

In Shandong province, organ donations were allocated by the local Red Cross rather than the official system, said Men Tongyi, a leading kidney transplant surgeon at Qianfoshan Hospital in Jinan.

Deng said this is because the allocation system had been on trial but was not yet fully operational.

"There are other channels to distribute organ donations," he said.

But he stressed that new regulations would demand all donated organs be fairly distributed by the allocation system, which ranks waiting patients by disease severity, waiting time and location.

"Such medical factors should be the only ones to decide which recipient gets an organ, and the allocation system works to ensure open, fair organ distribution which can be traced," he noted.

Wang Haibo, director of the China Organ Transplant Response System Research Center at the University of Hong Kong, welcomed the response.

"Fair allocation of organ donations determines fair allocation of the hope of the living," he said.

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