China is closer to legislation on human organ transplants to regulate the donation and procurement process amid surging demand for human organs, said one of the country's top political advisors, while refuting rumors that China harvests organs from living people.
Huang Jiefu, China's former vice heath minister who initiated the country's organ transplant reform, on Monday submitted a proposal to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
In his proposal, Huang suggested an amendment to the Regulations on Human Organ Transplantation, which took effect in 2007 and is "no longer suitable for the country's organ transplant development." Huang is a member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee. "A more appropriate name for the regulation would be 'regulations on organ donation and transplantation,' as donation is key," Huang said.
China doesn't have a law on organ transplants, but Huang said the revised regulation will lay the foundation for China to draft such a law, and that it is achievable and "won't take long."
China banned the use of organs from executed prisoners in 2015 as part of the effort to establish a legal system for organ procurement and distribution.
"It is true that organs from executed prisoners were used for transplant, which has been corrected," Huang said during an interview on Tuesday.
"But it's a lie that China harvests organs from those who are alive," he stressed.
According to his proposal, the role of different organizations and personnel should be specified, including the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, the Red Cross Society of China, organ procurement organizations (OPO), and the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS).
OPO are responsible for the procurement of human organs from deceased donors. COTRS is a computer-based system to distribute the donated organs. The Red Cross will "participate in and promote" organ donations as well as supervise the process, Huang said. Low rate of donation
China processed nearly 10,000 organ donations in 2016, ranking first in Asia and third in the world in terms of annual average number of organ donations.
However, the per million population donation rate in China is only 2.98, much lower than the EU rate of 19 and the US rate of 26.
In 2016, some 300,000 people were in need of a transplant.
In a poll of 2,000 people conducted by the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, 94 percent of respondents said they would be prepared to donate their organs after death. Among those unwilling to donate, nearly half complained that they did not know where to apply or that the registration process was too complicated.
Under these circumstances, the donation organizations are making innovative reforms of the donor process to ease online registration.
As of Monday, 219,365 people have registered to be organ donors since 2010, and more than 75 percent of the registrations were done on Alipay, an online payment platform with 450 million users, said Hou Fengzhong, deputy director of the China Organ Donation Administrative Center (CODAC).
Potential donors can also register via WeChat and the CODAC website. They can also go to savelife.org.cn, an organ donation registration platform managed by the National Health and Family Planning Commission
. Foreigners can register with their passport number at savelife.org.cn.
Registration doesn't always lead to donation, as the organs cannot be procured before strict medical and ethical evaluations. Family intervention can also prevent donations. Potential donors may cancel their registration at any time.Progress in organ transplant regulations
2007 Regulations on Human Organ Transplantation adopted, banning trade in organs
2010 Pilot program of voluntary-only donation system begins, which was later expanded nationwide
2011 Criminal Law amendment criminalizes trade of organs
2013 Regulation on the Procurement and Distribution of Donated Human Organs published, requiring all organ distribution be done through the China Organ Transplant Response System
2015 Use of organs from executed prisoners banned, making voluntary donations the only legitimate source