Lawmaker proposes legislation of brain death per complex situations
Published: Mar 04, 2022 08:02 PM
File Photo: Courtesy of Chen Jingyu

File Photo: Courtesy of Chen Jingyu

A Chinese lawmaker proposed the legislation of brain death at this year's two sessions, which kicked off on Friday, and this was his third time to bring the proposal to the annual meeting of China's top legislature as he believes the country's progress in pushing for the legislation cannot match the complex situations, though recognition of brain death is getting clearer. 

The lawmaker, Chen Jingyu, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) and cardiothoracic surgery expert from Wuxi People's Hospital in East China's Jiangsu Province, said in his proposal that brain death legislation is respect for human rights, to save China's limited medical resources, is beneficial to the country and the people, and accords with the development of science and humanity in China. 

China has a relatively complete organ donation system, and legislating brain death will further improve this system, making China's organ donation and transplantation at the forefront of the world, Chen said. 

Legislation on brain death is very common in the world, but China is not one of the countries. Some overseas anti-China forces took this opportunity to defame China, claiming that since there is no legislation on brain death, why are so many organs donated, Chen said. 

More than 100 countries and regions accept that a person can be declared legally dead if their brain has stopped functioning - even if their other vital organs can be artificially induced to keep working. 

The prevailing traditional understanding in China is that people are dead once their heart has stopped functioning and they have stopped breathing. 

Chen stressed although China has no related legislation, Chinese medical institutions have been implementing diagnostic standards for brain death. 

"China only needs to legally recognize brain death in its legal documents, and we don't need to draft a new law on it," Chen told the Global Times.

Chen submitted the proposal to the two sessions as early as 2017. And the National Health Commission and the Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee of the NPC replied to his proposals in 2017 and 2018. 

In 2017, the reply said the National Health Commission will further revise and improve the criteria and procedures for determining brain death in China and the Chinese medical community has defined the technical standards and procedures for brain death. There are no obstacles to the clinical determination of brain death. And the commission will cooperate with legislators on researching on the legislation. 

The 2018 reply said that "We agree with your proposal. It's not necessary to make a new law but to add the articles of brain death and cardiac death in existing laws. It's suggested that the relevant parties should seriously consider it in formulating or revising the law."