New sys­tem for trans­plants to be im­ple­mented

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chi­

China’s top health au­thor­ity will is­sue within the next month a national reg­u­la­tion re­quir­ing trans­plant hos­pi­tals to use a com­puter-based or­gan al­lo­ca­tion sys­tem, se­nior health of­fi­cials re­vealed on Fri­day.

Un­der the new direc­tive on hu­man or­gan pro­cure­ment and al­lo­ca­tion, those who don’t dis­trib­ute do­na­tions via the sys­tem, called the China Or­gan Trans­plant Re­sponse Sys­tem, will be pun­ished, or even have their li­censes re­voked, warned Huang Jiefu, di­rec­tor of the China Or­gan Do­na­tion Com­mit­tee and for­mer vice-min­is­ter of health.

Only or­gans do­nated by the gen­eral pub­lic af­ter death fall un­der the new reg­u­la­tion.

To date, nearly half of the trans­planted or­gans came from death-row in­mates this year, a de­crease from 95 per­cent in pre­vi­ous years.

The com­ing reg­u­la­tion is the lat­est in China’s ef­fort to stop re­ly­ing on ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers as ma­jor sources or or­gans for trans­plants.

So far, among China’s 165 au­tho­rized or­gan trans­plant cen­ters, only Wuhan Univer­sity’s Zhong­nan Hos­pi­tal has re­lied com­pletely on pub­lic or­gan do­na­tions.

“And we were re­cently rec­og­nized by the health au­thor­ity as a trans­plant cen­ter by do­ing so,” said Ye Qifa, ex­ec­u­tive deputy di­rec­tor of the hos­pi­tal’s liver dis­ease re­search in­sti­tute.

The hos­pi­tal so far has fa­cil­i­tated 53 or­gan do­na­tions and per­formed more than 140 trans­plants, ac­cord­ing to Ye.

“All do­nated or­gans went through the al­lo­ca­tion sys­tem,” he added.

Na­tion­wide, more than 1,000 pub­lic or­gan do­na­tions have been made, sav­ing at least 2,500 lives on the main­land.

But not all of them were fairly dis­trib­uted via the al­lo­ca­tion sys­tem, said Wang Haibo, di­rec­tor of the com­put­er­ized al­lo­ca­tion sys­tem at the Univer­sity of Hong Kong.

Fran­cis Del­monico, pres­i­dent of The Trans­plan­ta­tion So­ci­ety, an in­ter­na­tional NGO fo­cused on eth­i­cal trans­plan­ta­tion prac­tices, said that a com­put­er­ized sys­tem is a must for the fair al­lo­ca­tion of do­nated or­gans.

“Or­gans for trans­plan­ta­tion should be eq­ui­tably al­lo­cated to re­cip­i­ents re­gard­less of gen­der, eth­nic­ity, re­li­gion, or so­cial or fi­nan­cial sta­tus,” he added.

The fi­nan­cial sta­tus of the pa­tient or the hos­pi­tal’s profit must not in­flu­ence the al­lo­ca­tion sys­tem, he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Wang, China is not a mem­ber of the in­ter­na­tional NGO largely due to its use of or­gans from ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers.

But, the sit­u­a­tion is chang­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Huang, a hand­ful of trans­plant hos­pi­tals have ap­plied to per­form trans­plants free from or­gans from death-row pris­on­ers.

Huang added that he ex­pects more to fol­low suit af­ter a Novem­ber meet­ing on the prac­tice in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

“A doc­u­ment called the Hangzhou Res­o­lu­tion will be an­nounced by the China Or­gan Do­na­tion Com­mit­tee, im­ple­ment­ing a reg­u­la­tion on the source of or­gans for trans­plant to meet the com­monly ac­cepted eth­i­cal stan­dards in the world,” he said.

It’s cru­cial for China’s or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion sys­tem to sus­tain its de­vel­op­ment given that China will grad­u­ally phase out the death penalty, he said.

“Young trans­plant sur­geons should con­sider where the prac­tice is headed in the fu­ture,” he said.

Huo Feng, dean of the liver trans­plant cen­ter of the Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal of Guangzhou Mil­i­tary Area Com­mand of the PLA in Guangzhou, said that us­ing or­gans of ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers has long em­bar­rassed Chi­nese sur­geons. In June 2011, China’s hos­pi­tals set up the Or­gan Pro­cure­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tion com­pris­ing eight full-time mem­bers.

“They (the mem­bers) came from dif­fer­ent back­grounds in­clud­ing clin­i­cal prac­tice, so­cial work, re­search and ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Huo said.

So far, 86 per­cent of the donors have come from non­trans­plant hos­pi­tals, he said, urg­ing more co­op­er­a­tion from trans­plant hos­pi­tals.

“It (the or­ga­ni­za­tion) has be­come the vi­tal com­po­nent in the tran­si­tion from us­ing or­gans from ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers to us­ing pub­lic de­ceased or­gan do­na­tions,” he said.

Cur­rently, only one in 30 pa­tients await­ing trans­plants are able to re­ceive an op­er­a­tion due to a se­vere short­age of or­gan do­na­tions, of­fi­cial statis­tics showed.

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