(Hong Kong, 21 July 2015) On January 1, 2015, the National Organ Donation and Organ Transplant Committee announced the ban of organ harvesting from death-row inmates, designating civilian organ donation as the only legitimate source for organ transplants. Behind this historic health reform in China is Dr Huang Jiefu, former Vice Minister for the Ministry of Health and Director of the China Organ Transplantation Development (COTD) Foundation. With the endorsement of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Dr Huang is confident that the organ donation scheme will mature into a fair, just and transparent system, comparable to those of the international community. Dr Huang also gained a fervent supporter, Mr Li Ka-shing, when he shared his goals with him. The Li Ka Shing Foundation will seed RMB 8 million to kick-start the COTD Foundation’s initiatives.
In China, a systematic organ donation scheme was not established until 2010. Dr Huang, on behalf of many transplant surgeons, strongly advocates for the altruism of the voluntary donation method, believing that China must rid itself of the unsustainable practice of harvesting organs from executed prisoners. In a move towards transparency, in 2010, Dr Huang led a voluntary donor pilot program that grew to a national scale by 2013. And in just a short few years, China has not only made breakthroughs, it has also become a leading example in Asia. As of yesterday, since 2010, 12,208 organs were allocated and 4,518 successful transplantation cases have been identified, of which 1,371 cases were recorded in 2015. It is expected that this year, there will be an estimated total of over 2,500 voluntary donation cases, making China just second after the United States in the number of organ donations.
Dr Huang, losing his father to liver disease at the age of 13, aspired to practice medicine at a young age. His growing up experience is similar to that of Mr Li, whose father also passed away to tuberculosis when he was at the age of 14, which was a main impetus that motivated Mr Li to focus on putting funds to support medical research and services that advance compassion and fairness in society. Supporting Dr Huang’s mission to reform China’s organ donation system, Mr Li emphasises: “A gift of life is the most altruistic and civilised act of humanity; I encourage everyone to consider and support this cause.” Dr Huang feels that the national organ donation scheme enjoyed a good start, and is optimistic that it will heighten awareness and change behaviour.
Dr Huang is certain as the operations of the COTD Foundation becomes more fair and transparent, attitude towards organ donation will become more positive. He believes that the seed money from the Li Ka Shing Foundation’s donation will garner greater support from more leaders across the community. In addition, Dr Huang said a national matching fund of public-private partnership would be in place to support the development of this movement. This project is a new milestone that manifests the reforms undertaken by the Chinese government in medical reforms and services, paving the way to a brighter future.
About the Li Ka Shing Foundation
Established in 1980 by Mr. Li Ka-shing, the Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF) has three strategic focuses: nurture a new culture of giving; support education reform initiatives; and advance medical research and services. Mr. Li considers the Foundation to be his “third son” and has pledged one-third of his assets to it. With initiatives spread over 19 countries and regions, LKSF supports projects that promote social progress through expanding access to quality education and medical services and research, encouraging cultural diversity and community involvement. Since its inception, LKSF has granted over HK$17 billion, 87% of which benefit projects in the Greater China region.