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Chinese Attitudes Toward Body Donation Divided

An on-line survey by the International Herald Leader, a Beijing-based newspaper, and, has found half the Chinese surveyed are willing to donate their bodies for medical use after death.

More than 1,700 people gave their opinions, of whom about 30 percent said they "have considered making the donation, but decided not to", while 20 percent said "they would not even consider it".

Responding to the question "What are you most worried about in terms of body donation?", about 70 percent of people said they are worried about their bodies being sold for commercial purposes.

"Actually the major organs in bodies usually can not be utilized for transplantation after hospitals receive donated bodies," said Jin Duo, head of the medical department of Peking University. "So their worries are unfounded."

Half of the people surveyed agreed the families of people who donated their bodies should be paid, especially those living in poor conditions.

However, Jin said the government's ban on buying and selling donated bodies made it impossible to offer money.

Jin said informing the next of kin of use of the body and a proper funeral might be more of a comfort to them if they could be allowed to supervise the use of bodies and if the bodies could be buried with honor and care after being used for medical purposes.

About 50,000 Chinese have consented to donate their bodies, while the number might be even smaller when considering the consent required from next of kin to actually agree to donate the bodies.

Chen Bo, head of body donations at the Beijing Red Cross Association, said laws and regulations concerning donation needed to be improved.

Ms.Yin, who works for the neighborhood committee of Shanghai Steel and Iron Company, has consented to donate her body to research after death.

She joined a society with more than 200 people who agreed to donate their bodies. Other members of the society will visit the families of the deceased. "The idea of being of service to others even after death made me happy," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2008)

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