China to attend high-level Vatican summit against organ trafficking

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/6 14:28:39 Last Updated: 2017/2/7 7:51:30

Senior Chinese health officials are preparing to attend a high-level summit at the Vatican on organ trafficking Tuesday, an invitation which recognizes China's recent achievements in the field.

Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, will attend the two-day 2017 Pontifical Academy Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism at the Vatican, where he will discuss the Chinese perspective on organ administration.

In response to a medical ethics expert's protest that inviting Huang "risked giving a propaganda boost to China" and an "air of legitimacy" to its transplantation program, Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, an Argentine bishop and chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said the conference is meant to be an "academic exercise and not a reprise of contentious political assertions," The Guardian reported.

In a statement on its website, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences says that organ trafficking is driven by demand for organs in richer nations in the West and the Middle East. Only 120,000 of the estimated demand for 1 million organ transplants are performed each year, according to the World Health Organization.

China has made great strides in encouraging organ donations in a country that is traditionally opposed to the practice. In the first half of 2016, China completed 1,795 organ removals, up 45 percent compared to the same period in 2015. The figure for 2015 was 2,766, which exceeded the number in 2013 and 2014 combined, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

About 300,000 patients in China are listed for transplant surgery annually, although there are only about 10,000 organ transplant surgeries. The ratio of public organ donations is 0.6 to 100,000 people, which means China has one of the lowest rates of organ transplants in the world, according to Huang.

In 2011, illegal organ trading was criminalized after being included in an amendment in the Criminal Law, and a new system for organ management and distribution was launched in 2013.

At the 26th International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Hong Kong in August 2016, Huang condemned speculation that 100,000 transplants were performed every year using organs from executed prisoners as an insult to the intelligence of transplant professionals and to the sacrifice of the donors and their families, Xinhua reported.

Global Times


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