China’s first online volunteer organ donor registry will launch this month, China Daily reports.
“By filling out forms on the website, scheduled to open in late June, one can become a volunteer donor upon death,” the report quoted Liu Weixin, deputy director of the society’s National Organ Donation Management Center, as saying during a recent event.
Gao Xinpu, a division director of the center, said people can update personal information after registering and, if they choose, revoke previous consent, according to the report.
About damn time.
China suffers from a terrible shortage of human tissue for organ donations. The National Health and Family Planning Commission estimates that of the 300,000 patients in need of life-saving organ transplants every year, only 10,000 receive the tissue they need.
Doctors are sometimes reduced to fighting over a dying patient’s organs. While the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners did help the situation somewhat, this practice is being phased out in favour of a Western-style opt-in register.
It’s unfortunate that the government has not chosen to leapfrog the opt-in register altogether and institute an opt-out system (where all deceased patients are eligible for organ donation unless they have explicitly said otherwise) similar to that which many European countries are moving towards.
The proposed opt-in system leaves a massive loophole for squeamish family members to override the deceased’s wishes, according to Gao “a volunteer cannot donate if his or her family rejects the option”.
This is absurd. There is no legitimate reason to object to posthumous organ donation, and while it is the right of (stupid, selfish) individuals to refuse to do so, to allow their family members a say in the matter (with the exception perhaps of deceased children) is counterproductive.
China launched an organ donation system in 2010 after a trial run in 16 areas. It later expanded into 19 areas, and will cover another six locations in June, the China Daily quoted Liu as saying.
Note: Before anyone accuses me of not putting my money where my mouth is, I’m a registered full-body donor in the UK and will happily become one in China if the system is opened to foreign residents.
[Image credit: @ndguard]