CHINA - China has launched an online registry to encourage members of the public to supply life-saving organs for transplantation after their death.
The website savelife.org.cn has been jointly launched by the National Health and Family Planning Commission and District 3450 of Rotary International, a worldwide charity organisation of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian services and encourages high ethical standards in vocations.
"The registry website aims to arouse public attention and support organ donation for transplantation. It will serve as a platform to encourage members of the public to volunteer for organ donation," Zhou Jian, a division director for the commission, said on Wednesday about the website launch. Any person aged 16 or older can log on to the website and fill in personal information to become a volunteer, said Wang Guolin, who heads Rotary 3450.
"The registry is open to foreigners living in China as well," he said.
Before finishing the registry, one must indicate the type of organs or body tissues to be donated, he added.
The information is open only to the health authorities and authorised organ procurement organisations as needed, he said.
Volunteers are encouraged to talk with their families about their willingness to donate organs, as consent from families is also necessary to land a successful donation, he said.
About 300,000 Chinese countrywide are in need of an organ transplant each year, but only 10,000 are able to land one largely due to a shortage of organs, according to the commission.
"The kickoff of China's organ donation registry is a historic moment that marks the involvement of a great nation with a population of 1.3 billion in this meaningful global effort to achieve self-sufficiency in organ transplantation," said Jose R. Nunez, transplantation medical officer of the World Health Organisation.
"It represents a big step and a new era for organ transplantation in China."
Hong Kong entertainer Eric Tsang was named as image ambassador for organ donation at the launch. And he set an example by personally registering as an organ volunteer.
Tsang urged more people, particularly the younger generation, to join in the effort to save lives.
"But follow-up measures and policies should be put in place to ensure the transparent and fair use of donated organs," he said.
Wang Haibo, director of the China Organ Transplant Response System, said the commission requires that donated organs be assigned to patients by a computerized system.
"The organs would go to those with the most medical need, regardless of their social status or wealth," he said.
But he pointed out that an organ donation volunteer is different from a potential organ donor.
Anyone can volunteer, he said, but whether or not one's organs can actually be used after death depends on a number of factors including the prospective donor's age and health, as well as proximity to medical facilities capable of handling organs.