China is slated to become the world’s number one country for organ transplant in 2020, a trend attributed to the increasing number of voluntary donations from civilians.
The outlook comes from Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, who told the Associated Press on Wednesday that civilian donations increased from 30 in 2010 to over 5,500 this year, enough to deliver new organs to some 15,000 people.
Huang said in an interview (via ABC News):
“We anticipate according to the speed of the development of the organ donation in China, the momentum, in the year 2020, China will become the No. 1 country in the world to perform organ transplantation in an ethical way.”
The assumption suggests that China will overtake the United States as the world’s leading country in organ transplant, which currently allows 28,000 recipients per year.
There are glaring obstacles to achieving such status, however. Issues such as the disapproval of family members on a prospective donor’s will, people’s reluctance to register as organ donors on their drivers’ licenses and the need for more qualified physicians and transplant coordinators all pose challenges in the improvement of a healthcare modality system that remains relatively unorthodox in Chinese society.
China previously utilized organs from executed prisoners in transplant procedures, a practice that had been fully banned since 2015. However, a 718-page report, published by a team of human rights advocates last year revealed that Chinese hospitals conducted transplants with or without legal permission.
Hence, critics outside the country are calling for independent scrutiny of the ban’s implementation through surprise checks, but state officials argue that the same should be carried out in other countries.
For now, Chinese authorities have partnered with Alibaba to allow people to register as organ donors in seconds. According to Huang, over 210,000 users have so far expressed their willingness to donate, but that figure undoubtedly pales if one zooms out to behold a national population of nearly 1.4 billion. And with experts predicting that the population will be cut by as much as 50% in 2100, one can only hope for a healthy and sustainable balance of supply and demand in organ transplants.