Beijing: Hundreds of human organs obtained through donations in China are going waste due to poor maintenance and lack of qualified staff, experts said.
Many donated organs ultimately go to waste due to lack of organ maintenance and shortage of hospitals qualified enough to perform transplants, even though China ranks first in Asia in the number of organs donated every year.
"China only transplanted lungs from around 150 of the 2,766 volunteers who donated their lungs last year, and many of those donated lungs have been wasted," Chen Jingyu, a leading lung transplant surgeon and deputy head of the Wuxi People's Hospital in East China's Jiangsu Province, told state-run Global Times.
In China, organ donation usually takes place around one week after the patients are declared brain-dead, whereas in Western countries, most organs are donated within 48 hours, Chen said, adding that delicate organs such as hearts and lungs are unusable after several days due to infection.
Chen estimated that only half of donated lungs were transplanted in the first nine months of 2015, while the rest were discarded due to poor quality, including 50 to 60 that were "wasted en route" having deteriorated during delays in transport, The New York Times reported in November last year.
Echoing Chen Zhu Jiye, director of the Organ Transplantation Centre of Peking University said that a smoother organ transportation system is needed to shorten transit times to ensure the organs' viability.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China issued a notice on February 25 to make it easier to quickly transport organs, saying airlines should train their staff to give priority to doctors transporting organs when they check in, go through security checks and deplane, news site thepaper.cn reported.
Chen also noted that many Intensive Care Unit staff lack sufficient knowledge of organ maintenance, especially for hearts and lungs, as their preservation requires stricter standards than other organs.
The supply of some donated organs such as livers and kidneys has fallen short of demand, but some organs such as hearts and lungs are not fully utilised, Zhu said.
"In Beijing, only two hospitals are qualified to conduct heart and lung transplants, but 22 hospitals are qualified for kidney and liver transplants," Zhu said.
As of March 20, China had completed organ donations from 6,624 volunteers, ultimately saving the lives of 18,000 patients.
China is now the No 1 country in Asia and No 3 in world in terms of the number of organs donated every year, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said....