Steady number of organ transplants carried out

2020-12-20 12:00:21

Experts from the Union Hospital, the lung transplant center of Jiangsu province, the First Affiliated Hospital of the College of Medicine at Zhejiang University and other medical facilities work out a double-lung transplant surgery for the patient on April 24, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua] Chinese hospitals have been able to carry out organ transplants at roughly a normal rate during the COVID-19 epidemic, making China one of the few countries in the world seeing a steady number of organ transplant surgeries this year, experts and officials said on Saturday. They said the prompt control of the virus, growing acceptance of voluntary post-mortem organ donations and a rising number of organ transplant professionals have all contributed to ensuring the nearly normal pace. Guo Yanhong, an official with the National Health Commission, said China has performed over 17,100 organ transplant surgeries this year as of Dec 15. Last year, a total of 19,500 organ transplants were performed, she said during the 5th China-International Organ Donation Conference held in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province. "In terms of the number of organs donated annually, China continues to rank second in the world," said Wang Hesheng, the commission's vice-minister. Transplants from deceased donors this year stood at nearly 5,000 as of Dec 17, according to Guo. In 2019, a total of 5,800 post-mortem organ donations were recorded. China began a trial program a decade ago to promote voluntary post-mortem organ donations and gradually implemented the practice nationwide. Since 2010, more than 33,000 people have donated their organs after death, resulting in transplants of over 93,000 individual organs , Guo said. Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and former vice-minister of health, said most countries have suspended or delayed organ transplants due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, but China has managed to overcome the challenge. One significant reason is that the country swiftly curbed local transmission of the virus, creating favorable conditions for medical workers and organ transplant workers to continue their vital work, according to Huang. Social advocacy also played a significant role in increasing the number of voluntary donors, especially those who make donations upon their deaths. Yu Fulong, vice-president of the Red Cross Society of China, said about 2.7 million people have registered as organ donors since 2010. "The numbers of post-mortem organ donations have hit new records continuously in recent years, greatly easing the shortage," he said. China has also seen an uptick in lung and heart transplants this year as the number of healthcare workers capable of performing these complicated procedures is rising, Huang added.