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TODAY SPECIAL
 
Project for organ donors unveiled
South China's Guangdong province officials on Tuesday formally launched a pilot program to promote organ donations, along with nine other provinces and cities involved in this nationwide initiative.

Last August, the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced the launch of an organ donation system in 10 provinces and cities in a pilot initiative to speed up organ transplants.

The pilot regions are the cities of Tianjin, Shanghai, Xiamen, Nanjing and Wuhan and the provinces of Guangdong, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Shandong and Jiangxi.

Guangdong health authorities decided to set up a special committee, composed of officials and medical experts, in charge of organ donation work.

They also are working to establish a network responsible for organ donation registry, collection and distribution, Chen Zechi, director of rescue and aid department of the Guangdong branch of RCSC, told China Daily on Wednesday.

"We will start promoting organ donations while gradually setting up a registry system for donors and a distribution system for recipients," he said.

The initiative will first be carried out in 10 cities including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhongshan and Zhuhai, and later be extended to all 21 cities in the province.

When the system could be fully implemented across China is still uncertain, as the branch is still waiting for specific policies and regulations from the RCSC and the MOH.

"Lacking government funding and personnel, the process of establishing a complete system could be long," Chen said.

A total of 50 people donated organs in Guangdong from 2003 to 2009, according to the branch.

In recent years, the number of people receiving organ transplants declined in the province, with 2,034 cases in 2004 and 1,118 cases in 2009, Liao Xinbo, deputy director of the provincial health bureau, was quoted as saying by Guangzhou Daily.

Official estimates show that 1.5 million Chinese need organ transplants each year, but only 10,000 operations are performed because of a severe shortage of donors.

Some people say they would be happy to donate, given the right circumstances.

"If the donation procedures are simple and convenient, I'd love to register as a donor," said Wang Nan, 29, a local with Shenzhen Expressway Company.

"But I doubt most people would do so even after the system could be set up, mainly due to the restriction of conventional ethical concepts," he said.

In 2007, China issued its first regulation on human organ transplants, banning the sale of organs and introducing a set of medical standards for transplants in an effort to guarantee medical safety and the health of patients.

Nationwide, 164 medical institutions on the Chinese mainland are licensed to carry out organ transplants, among which 14 are in Guangdong.
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