The total number of cases of organ donation in China reached 14,000 by the end of October, but, now, an insufficiency of surgeons has hindered the country in its organ donation and transplantation moves, according to a senior health official.
Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, told the Global Times on Monday that the country did only 264 lung transplants last year with more than 8,000 lung donations available.
Huang said that a shortage of qualified transplant surgeons has stalled the country’s organ donation reforms. He also noted that “China has made remarkable progress in organ donations in recent years. But, it still needs to work on [the lack of]funding, its ongoing medical care reforms and its shortage of qualified doctors.”
The China News Service on Tuesday quoted Cao Huaijie, the executive deputy director of the China Organ Donation Administrative Center, as saying that the total number of organ donors in China reached 14,000 by the end of October.
This helped China rank second in the world in annual organ donations and the country may become the first in only two years, Huang added.
The business of organ transplants got off to a relatively late start in China, with the first taking place in the 1970s. Nonetheless, the number of donations in China hovered around zero until 2003.
China introduced reforms to the organ donation system and banned the use of prisoners’ organs in 2015, a move that was praised by international organ donation and transplant groups, as well as the WHO, and Pope Francis.
China now has more than 330,000 registered organ donors and more than 30,000 people who suffered organ failure and got an organ transplant, the China News Service reported.
The country’s organ donation ratio reached to 2.98 per 1 million people in 2016 from 0.03 in 2010, although the figure still lags behind that of developed countries.
Shen Ji, the head of the Sichuan Health and Family Planning Commission, has pointed out that less than one fifth of the people needing an organ transplant can get one, China News Service reported.
“We have to continue publicizing the importance of organ donation to the Chinese public,” Shen said.
Yang Hongji, a surgeon from the Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital, said that China’s organ donation publicity campaign needs to expand to rural and remote areas as well.
“Governments at various levels need to get more active in introducing the idea of organ donations to the public,” Huang said, adding that “contrary to the old perception, many organ donors come from rural families.”