Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Chinese patients in need of organs

LACK OF SUPPLIES While organ transplants are big business in China, the majority of its own citizens waiting for transplants will not have their operations

AP , BEIJING

Few of the 1.5 million people who need an organ transplant in China each year actually have the surgery, with only about 10,000 operations carried out annually, state media reported, citing a senior health official.

Xinhua news agency said Chinese Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu (黃潔夫) attributed the donor shortage to cultural biases against organ removal and the lack of a legal framework governing organ transplants.

Huang also blamed "irregular organ transplant practices" in some medical institutions for causing a lack of confidence in the process, the report said, but did not elaborate.

China should set up an information network that registers and keeps track of all human organ donations, Huang said. Additionally, a set of regulations on organ transplants drafted by the Health Ministry is being reviewed, the report said.

The ministry banned the sale of human organs in July in an apparent attempt to clean up the lucrative but poorly regulated transplant business.

While China has long defended its transplant business as legal, little information about it is publicly available. Critics contend it is profit-driven with little regard for medical ethics.

Human rights groups say many organs -- including those transplanted into wealthy foreigners -- come from executed prisoners who may not have given their permission. Voluntary donations remain far below demand.

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