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China Struggles to Improve Organ Donation With Cultural Barriers and Black Market Concerns

by Vishnuprasad on April 21, 2015 at 4:56 PM
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China Struggles to Improve Organ Donation With Cultural Barriers and Black Market Concerns

Number of organ donors in China is extremely low for a country with a population of more than 1 billion. Between March 2010 to April this year, only 3,824 people donated organs.

One reason for the low figures is that the national organ donation program was only implemented in 2014. Prior to that, the country was almost entirely dependent on executed prisoners as a source of transplant organs but this practice has gradually decreased, according to the Dui Hua foundation, a US-based rights group.

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But workers at the heart of the education campaign are also up against a significant cultural barrier in spreading awareness about organ donations because many in China believe a body should be buried whole.

A recommendation to include an organ donation preference in a person's driving licence did not gain any attention at last year's meeting among China's political advisory body. Delegates felt that would be an unlucky gesture.
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Apart from the cultural aversion, China also faces a sceptical public. In 2012, 40 percent of people surveyed were worried donated organs may be given to those with money or power - in other words, trafficked into a black market.

However, efforts are being made to improve the organ donation rate in the country. Officials who are designated to promote organ donation speak excitedly about upcoming projects.

"We are planning to create more awareness on organ donation. We will make some movies and documentaries in this account. We made a movie based on a theme of organ donations called the Gift of Life but it's not in cinemas yet," said Dr Gao Xinpu, deputy director of the China Organ Administrative Center.

The center Dr Gao helps run has only been operating since 2013. Its job is to train people to educate others about organ donations, especially the families of patients who are gravely ill. The center also provides counseling to people to improve the donation rate.

Source: Medindia
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