Chinese organ transplant expert vows to standardize process
Updated 19:25, 16-Mar-2019
By Zhao Yunfei, Zhang Youze
02:23

While organ donations and their subsequent transplants are a popular process in western countries, that's not the case in China. Many are against the procedure due to cultural beliefs, but the stigma is being changed in an attempt to save more lives.

Losing a loved one is always difficult. But many families pledge to help others even in times of grief by donating organs of the deceased.

It's a logistical process facilitated by specialized hospital staff, like Ge Yahui.

"Many of my clients have hardly even heard of organ donation. They know very little about it. If you mention that even abruptly, they can hardly accept it," said Ge, an organ donation negotiator at People's Hospital of Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province.

Li Yuju, a patient who received a kidney, says he is excited about a new life. /CGTN Photo

Li Yuju, a patient who received a kidney, says he is excited about a new life. /CGTN Photo

But an offer after-death can change many others' lives. On the other side of the hospital, patients who have just undergone surgery are recovering.

Li Yuju just got his kidney replaced. He is thankful for the procedure.

"I want to get to know more about my donor. I want to know what he or she looks like and what he or she does," Li said.

He'll never be able to know the donor due to the double-blind policy, but there has been at least one exception.

Five organ recipients had the unique chance to meet their sole donor, Ye Sha, via a streaming video. They decided to honor Ye Sha by creating a basketball team, as he was an avid fan of the game.

The video drew significant attention across the country to organ donation.

An educational video features five organ receivers from the same donor went viral online. /Photo Courtesy of Donggua Video

An educational video features five organ receivers from the same donor went viral online. /Photo Courtesy of Donggua Video

In China, about 300,000 patients need organ transplants each year. But the ratio of demand-to-supply is 30 to one. Experts say organ donation is not an act of human compassion, but a result of a good education.

The transplant process is a race against time. And there is still some debate over its standards.

Internationally, organ donation after brain death, or DBD, is widely adopted. But due to cultural beliefs, most Chinese only accept a donation after brain death followed by circulatory death, or DBCD.

"If brain death can legally be defined as death, it will make our organ transplant process much easier. The quality of organs will be better," said Qu Qingshan, director of Organ Transplantation Center in Zhengzhou.

Lyu Jinfu is one of many waiting for a matched organ. /CGTN Photo

Lyu Jinfu is one of many waiting for a matched organ. /CGTN Photo

Not everyone is lucky, as many are still waiting to receive new organs. Uremia patient Lyu Jinfu has been waiting in the hospital for a matching kidney for nine months.

"I am still very young; I am 26. If I were healthy now, I should have started my career like my peers. Whether working out of town or to staying with family, I'd be happy," Lyu said.

Lyu was diagnosed with nephritis after a car accident 10 years ago. His health deteriorated over the years. The doctor said a replacement kidney could give him a new life, but the search is taking time.

Lyu said he will not give up on the chance to be reborn.

(Meng Mingwei also made contributions to the story.)