China plans reforms to organ donation rules

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China is planning changes in its organ donation rules to tackle a shortage of donors and curb illicit harvesting after it stopped taking tissue from executed prisoners five years ago.

The reforms focus on protecting the legal rights of donors but are unlikely to boost donations given the cultural sensitivities in China of “mutilating a body” after death, said Wang Bing, a Beijing-based lawyer who specializes in medical disputes.

The draft law is available for public comment until the end of the month and no timeline has been set for debate or adoption by China’s parliament. The report also said the number of transplants in China far outnumbered official donors, and organs harvested from prisoners of conscience — including practitioners of the banned Falungong spiritual movement — accounted for the difference.The amendments include fines and other punishments for individuals and institutions involved in organ trafficking or illegal transplants.

Since pilot projects with voluntary donors began in the early 2010s, Beijing has reported tremendous success, with the number of voluntary deceased donors increasing from 34 in 2010 to 6,316 in 2018, according to the government-run China Organ Transplant Response System.

 

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