Caixin
Dec 22, 2016 07:41 PM
SOCIETY & CULTURE

Charity Ties up with Alipay to Promote Voluntary Organ Donations

(Beijing) — A government-backed foundation promoting voluntary organ donations has teamed up with China's largest online payment service, Alipay, to tap its 450 million users for potential donations.

Alipay.com users registered to become volunteer donors within seconds after the service started on Thursday, said Wang Haibo, a deputy secretary-general of the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation.

Online registrations — including sign-ups via Alipay — rose by more than 8,000 by 4 p.m. on Thursday, raising the total number of registrants to 48,000, foundation statistics showed.

Details of volunteers who register via Alipay would be included in the foundations open database.

China currently lacks a national organ donor registry, but the foundation is just one of a handful of organizations authorized to collect information about potential organ donors and one of only two organ-matching services in the country, Wang said.

Its decision to partner with Alipay comes at a time when China is faced with a shortage of organs for transplant operations, after the government put an end to the controversial practice of harvesting organs from executed criminals in early 2015.

About one million patients nationally require a kidney transplant every year, while another 300,000 remain on waiting lists for a liver transplant annually, according to official estimates.

But fewer than 80,000 volunteers have registered for donations nationwide as of Dec. 10, according to the China Organ Donation Administrative Center, an affiliate of the Red Cross Society of China. By comparison, about 120 million volunteers have signed up for organ donations in the U.S.

A complex registration procedure may have discouraged donors in the past, said Huang Jiefu, a member of China Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee. "One study shows that we could lose a million potential donors if the public was required to fill one extra piece of information," Huang said.

A survey of Alipay users by the foundation and Ant Financial Services Group, which owns Alipay, also found that willing donors were often deterred by the need to fill in lengthy forms.

About 80% of some 865 users surveyed said they were willing to donate organs, but over a half of those surveyed said they had not volunteered to donate because they did not know where to register, or the process to sign up was too complicated.

People can now sign up to make donations by using only their name and national ID numbers on Alipay, and can easily opt out if they change their mind, Wang said.

Contact Li Rongde (rongdeli@caixin.com)

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