Almost all donated organs in China not used: Official

BEIJING • Almost all organs donated for transplant in China go unused, state-run media said, after years of controversy about the use of body parts from executed prisoners.

The authorities expected to have more than 2,500 organ donors this year, the Beijing Youth Daily said, citing Mr Huang Jiefu, head of the China Organ Donation Committee and a former vice-health minister.

That could "technically" make possible 2,500 heart transplants and 5,000 lung transplants, he told the paper, but only just over 100 heart transplants have been carried out since January, and a similar number of lung transplants.

"On the one side there is a shortage, on the other side there is waste," he was quoted as saying.

The paper blamed slow transport and poor coordination for the organ losses. In contrast, more than 3,300 patients benefited from the organs of 1,282 deceased donors in Britain, according to the most recent data from the country's National Health Service.

Organ donations in China are limited as many of its 1.37 billion people believe they will be reincarnated after death and so feel the need to keep a complete body intact.

Consistently high demand has created incentives for forced donations and illegal sales, with overseas rights groups condemning the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Almost all donated organs in China not used: Official'. Print Edition | Subscribe