A reminder of the importance of organ donation. Male hands holding heart with a message that reads: Organ donor.

Organ donation is on the rise in some developed countries. Individuals have allowed their organs to be removed, legally, either by consent while they as donors are alive or after death with the assent of their next of kin. The organs donated may be for research, or, more commonly healthy transplantable organs and tissues may be donated to be transplanted into another person.

China has seen an invariable increase in the number of organ donations since the country began a pilot donation program in 2010, according to the Red Cross Society of China.

At the end of March 2018, nearly 46,500 organs had been donated in China, and nearly 422,000 Chinese had registered for voluntary organ donations, reports China Daily.

Deceased organ donors can donate: kidneys (2), liver, lungs (2), heart, pancreas, and intestines. In 2014, hands and faces were added to the organ transplant list.

Living organ donors can donate: one kidney, a lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestine.

China ranks first in Asia in the annual number of organs donated and transplanted, according to the Red Cross at a memorial service for organ donors in Wuhan, Hubei province recently.

China has also established a mechanism for the fair allocation of donated organs.

Members of the medical staff honor an organ donor in an operating room at the Beijing You’an Hospital.

Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, said that last year more than 5,170 people in China donated organs after death, and another 2,350 people donated organs while alive-mainly to relatives. That’s up from 2016, when 4,080 people donated organs after death, according to the National Health Commission.

Wang Ping, vice-president of the Red Cross, said that after years of public education the concept of organ donation has been gaining acceptance in China.

Organ donations have seen a rapid increase since the beginning of 2015, when China banned the removal of organs from executed prisoners, health officials said. The number of postmortem donors last year tripled that of 2014, according to the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation.

China has established a unique organ donation system that has been hailed as a model by many international experts, Huang said.

“The Chinese model features firm support from the Chinese government and an active response from society as a whole,” he said. “It is operated according to law and includes unique elements such as memorial services for donors and public education.”

Despite being the top country in Asia for number of organs donated annually, China still lags some other countries, Huang said, adding that the number of donors in China is about 5 for every 1 million population.

By contrast, Spain has a ratio of 47 per million, the highest in the world. In the United States, the ratio is 25 per million, he said.

It is expected that with continued efforts, the number of hospitals certified for transplant surgeries in China will increase. The target is to reach 300 hospitals, up from the current 179, Huang said, adding that this will help promote development of organ donation and transplantation.