Bottlenecks eased for donated organs

Updated: 2016-03-18 08:07

By Cang Wei in Nanjing(China Daily)

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The first lung to be transported between two Chinese cities following a change in civil aviation rules to prioritize donated organs was successfully transplanted into a patient in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, on Wednesday afternoon.

Liu Dong, a doctor on the organ transport team, said the service provided by airlines "has significantly improved" in comparison to previous organ transport experiences.

"Now we don't need to explain too much at the airport about transporting donated human organs," said Liu. "The team went through the security checks more smoothly. The airport even arranged for a car to take us to the plane."

He said the team arrived at the airport at about 6:40 am. and arrived in Wuxi four hours later. The surgery concluded successfully at 6:20 pm.

On Feb 25, the Civil Aviation Administration of China informed airlines and airports that they must improve the services offered to people with disabilities and those falling ill on flights. They were also told to guarantee transportation of donated organs.

"We used to be required to explain about the organs to airport security in great detail," Liu said. "Sometimes the team was refused permission to board flights."

One week before the administration issued the new regulation, a lung that was donated in Dalian, Liaoning province, that was required in Wuxi was turned back by an airline.

Bottlenecks eased for donated organs

"Our medial workers were worried every time we negotiated with the airlines and the airports," said Chen Jingyu, who heads the world's fifth-largest lung transplant center, which is in Wuxi People's Hospital.

"Without an official donated organ transportation system, many factors might influence the transportation and cause the final transplant surgery to fail," Chen said. "Many times, we had to call our friends working at the airports for help, but we could not rely on their help all of the time."

He asked for the establishment of an official emergency transportation system for donated organs during last year's annual sessions of the top legislature and political advisory body and urged cooperation from airlines, railways and highways.

Chen said a significant number of China's donated lungs had gone to waste because of transportation problems and the narrow window of time in which the organs remain viable. Lungs must be used within 12 hours and the surgery usually takes five hours.

In China, patients typically wait for two or three years before receiving a lung transplant. Many have died while waiting.

"With the administration's regulation, the airlines and airports are now aware of donated organ transports," said Liu. "We don't need to worry about the transport procedures as we did before, which will benefit the patients greatly."