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China aims to boost organ donation


There is a surging demand for human organs in China, and the country has hired about 2,000 “organ donation facilitators,” whose main job is to persuade patients’ relatives to give life to others and explain the benefits that will come with the donation. In a Financial Times article (paywall), a facilitator named Qian Gongtao 钱公淘 explained that he deals with four cases per month on average, but that most of his efforts are futile because China in general lacks a tradition of organ donation. “One successful case in 10 is a good ratio,” said Qian.

In 2016, over 4,000 people donated their organs in China, while around 300,000 patients waited for transplants. Donation rates in China have been hovering at a low level of 2.98 per million people in comparison with double digits in the EU. To address the country’s chronic shortage of organs for donation, the government has developed a few methods, such as granting 10,000 yuan each to a poor household that signs off on a donation, inscribing donors’ names on a plaque in an exclusive graveyard, and honoring their ashes in an annual ceremony. On a legislative level, a legal framework on human organ transplants is under discussion to regulate the donation and procurement process. Meanwhile, with the help of Alipay, one of the most popular mobile payment apps in China, users can easily register as organ donors by providing their real names and identification card numbers.


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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.