China to be self-sufficient in organ transplants by 2030

By Li Ruohan in Kunming Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/6 23:23:39

Foreign experts blame cult for spreading baseless organ rumors

China is expected to be self-sufficient in organ transplants by 2030, an international expert said at a press conference on the sidelines of the China Organ Donation and Transplantation Conference on Saturday in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

"My prediction is [that in] 2020, China will be number one in the world in number of organ donors, and in 2030, you can be self-sufficient," said Martí Manyalich, president of the International Society For Organ Donation and Procurement, who has been involved in the training of around 500 organ coordinators in China during the past five years.

Facing a shortage of qualified transplant surgeons and hospitals, which has led to a waste of donated organs, China has vowed to train more doctors and increase the number of qualified hospitals from the current 173 to 300 by 2020.

The number of organ donors in China is expected to rise to around 5,000 this year from 34 in 2010 when the voluntary donation system was introduced, said Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee.

Around 300,000 patients in China are in need of transplant surgeries every year but only 16,000 of them are estimated to be able to receive surgeries this year, said Huang.

Also at the meeting, international organizations, including The Transplantation Society (TTS) that once excluded Chinese surgeons from its membership and academic exchanges have for the first time openly encouraged China's involvement with global transplant activities and scientific exchanges at the conference.

"I have every confidence that the progress of reform will be sustained, and the objective of increasing the number of organs available for transplantation are done equitably and fairly, and will be realized," said Francis Delmonico, former president of TTS and a Harvard Medical School professor.

The change comes after China banned the use of organs from executed prisoners in 2015. The practice was misinterpreted by overseas groups, such as the Falun Gong, to fabricate baseless rumors against China, international experts said during a heated discussion at the Saturday press conference.

Cult's cause

"There's no evidence of any Falun Gong practitioner being executed and having their organs removed," Campbell Fraser, an international human organ trade expert from Griffith University in Australia, told the Global Times.

The whole existence of Falun Gong is based on the so-called organ harvesting claims, which are based on falsified data, said Frazer, who also made the statement at a June hearing at the Australian parliament.

Some practitioners complained of having their blood tested during detentions, but in reality blood testing is a routine practice in many countries to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, said Fraser.

The baseless claim that China still uses organs from executed prisoners is still made by international media, as a Friday report by AFP shows. 

According to Frazer, the Falun Gong group is merely using people to "try and further a political objective upon the request of a group of primarily US-based political activists who are working to try and destabilize the Chinese government."

Frazer said that his own experience of being attacked by the group, such as receiving three formal complaints at his university and protests at his house against his research about Falun Gong, makes it clear that Falun Gong is a cult.

"Now no one up here has any evidence that supports the Falun Gong claims. If we had, we wouldn't be up here," said Phillip O'Connell, former president of TTS.

"The opaque transplant system before China launched the reform led to the spread of the rumor, as wild accusations become a possibility when people have no access to data. However, since the reform, it's become more open, and openness brings reassurance and trust," he added.

Newspaper headline: Nation to be self-sufficient in organ transplants

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