Mental issue stops kidney transplant

Updated: 2011-03-18 07:31

By He Dan (China Daily)

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Mental issue stops kidney transplant
To save his life, Gu Xincheng (right), a uremia patient, wants his younger brother Gu Xinying to donate a kidney. Hai Guo / for China Daily

BEIJING - A hospital in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, has abandoned a plan to transplant a kidney from a live donor after having considered the legal risks that may arise from taking the organ from the patient's younger brother, who is believed to suffer from mental troubles.

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The recipient of the kidney was to be Gu Xincheng, a 35-year-old migrant worker in Guangzhou, who was diagnosed with uremia in December 2010. In late January, Gu learned that he could die unless he got a new kidney.

His prospects grew brighter for a time when it seemed that his younger brother would be a willing donor. But that was all changed on Thursday.

"We made the decision this afternoon not to do the surgery for Gu Xincheng after internal discussions and consultations with lawyers," said Song Zhonglei, publicity director with Guangdong No 2 Provincial People's Hospital.

China's regulation on human organ transplants stipulates that, before a transplant, donors should be in possession of full mental faculties and sign an agreement with an intended organ recipient, Song told China Daily through the phone.

Song said the hospital is not qualified to perform a mental examination on the younger brother.

After learning he was ill, Gu turned to his parents and three brothers for help. There he only found more bad news - his mother had suffered a relapse of rhinocarcinoma.

Selflessly, Gu's mother said she did not want to undergo treatment so the family could save money. She also suggested Gu's youngest brother, Gu Xinying, be the kidney donor.

"This is the only choice, because our father is too old," Gu Xincheng explained. "Besides, the other two brothers are married and need to take care of their families."

So Gu and his youngest brother went to Guangdong No 2 Provincial People's Hospital on March 14 and requested a kidney transplant.

Medical test shows that Gu Xinying is the ideal person to donate a kidney to his brother, Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported.

Even so, the situation became complicated when Gu Xinying told a reporter from the Guangzhou Daily "I don't know" in response to a question about whether he was willing to give a kidney to his brother.

"My youngest brother had an accident in childhood and he did not continue receiving education after primary school, so his brain seems to work slower than normal people's," Gu, the patient, said.

"He is too shy to talk to strangers," Gu said, adding that his brother does well at farm work and domestic chores.

The case of Gu has roused heated debate online. About 71 percent of the respondents to an online survey at said they are in favor of the surgery, saying it is natural for people to do whatever they can to help family members with serious diseases.

But many netizens and experts strongly opposed the donation, claiming it is not only illegal but also immoral to ask someone with mental troubles to donate an organ.

"There are high risks in kidney-transplant surgeries," said Zhai Xiaomei, a bioethicist at the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing. "It will almost certainly cause harm to the donor's health."

"The family should not sacrifice a disabled person's health just because he cannot make bigger financial contributions to the household."

Zhai also said that a person who decides to give an organ to a relative is often responding to family pressure rather than acting out of his own will.



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