Kidney Failure and Transplantation in China
Social Science and Medicine. 1997 May; 44(9): 1271-1283.
The incidence of chronic renal failure in China is approximately 120,000 cases per year; the vast majority of these new cases will die within a very short time because of the shortage of funds, dialysis machines, and organs for transplantation. This paper focuses on the reasons behind the organ shortage and the strategies proposed by the Chinese medical profession to increase the supply of transplantable kidneys. The data were gathered on multiple trips to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan between August 1993 and January 1995. During these trips the author spoke formally with nephrologists, urologists, dialysis and transplant nurses, and other individuals active in the field of organ procurement, and informally with others familiar with general hospital practice. The author also draws heavily on articles published in leading Chinese journals. The kidney shortage in China is produced by the same sorts of problems as exist in other countries, but the shortage is aggravated by certain beliefs and practices specific to Chinese populations. Live donation is hampered by traditional beliefs about the function of the kidney, while cadaver donation is hampered by reluctance to cut a body and a host of beliefs about ghosts, labeled "feudal superstitions" by the authorities. Cadaver donation is further restrained by the lack of legal recognition of "brain death". In response to the organ shortage, the Chinese medical community has expanded the range of eligible sources to include those condemned to death as criminals, a practice itself usually condemned by the wider international community. At the same time it has advocated: (1) enhancing corpse donation through propaganda work, administrative work, legal work, and incentives; (2) encouraging live donation; (3) familiarizing the public with the benefits of organ transplantation, and (4) pursuing the development of artificial organs.
Artificial Organs; Attitudes; Attitudes to Death; Brain; Brain Death; Buddhist Ethics; Cadavers; Capital Punishment; Consent; Death; Determination of Death; Donors; Ethics; Family Members; Incentives; Kidney Diseases; Kidneys; Legal Aspects; Medicine; Nurses; Organ Donors; Organ Transplantation; Organ Procurement; Physicians; Prisoners; Punishment; Renal Dialysis; Scarcity; Terminally Ill; Third Party Consent; Tissue Donation; Transplant Recipients; Transplantation; Withholding Treatment;
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