The number of people who donated organs after death in China this year reached 4,207 at the end of October. And the number of individual organs was much higher－11,896－exceeding last year’s donations, according to China’s top health authority.
Last year 4,080 people in China donated 11,037 organs, Guo Yanhong, deputy chief for medical administration and supervision at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at a work conference on organ transplants in Beijing on Nov 30.
Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and former vice-minister of health, said the total number of people who have made organ donations after death in China is expected to exceed 5,000 year this year. If you count live donors－people who donate a kidney to a family member, for example－the total number of donors could hit 7,000 by the end of this year.
When China banned the harvesting of organs from the bodies of executed prisoners in 2015, voluntary donations became the only legitimate source of organs in the country.
China currently ranks second in the number of organ donors in the world. Last year, the United States had more than 9,000 donors, Huang said.
China could rank first globally in organs donated in the next three to four years, considering the rapid development of the practice over the past several years, he added.
Organ donations have seen a surge in China since 2015. The number of donated organs exceeded 7,700 in 2015, a rise of nearly 70 percent over the previous year, Guo said. Meanwhile, hospitals in China have been among the world’s top ranking in organ transplant technology, she said.
Organ donations and transplants follow internationally accepted principles－including voluntary, ethical inspections before transplantation and fair distribution of organs, Guo said.
“China will continue to improve and detail its laws and regulations on organ donations and transplants,” she said. “We will intensify international cooperation in this area.”
Despite its increasing number of organ donations, China still lags behind many countries and there’s much room for improvement, said Hong Junling, vice-chairman of the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation.
In Spain, the number of donors is more than 34 per 1 million population; in the United States, it’s more than 25, he said.
According to the commission’s Guo, China has about 3.8 per million.
More efforts need to be undertaken to improve organ donations and transplants in China, including the prevention of illegal acquisition of organs and building public faith in a fair distribution system, Hong said.