For evidence of the problems plaguing the mainland's health care system, look no further than its organ transplant industry. A severe shortage means that four out of five patients die while waiting for a suitable match. The result is a thriving illegal trade involving corrupt doctors and kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs and corneas openly for sale on the internet. Guangdong's officials are to be applauded for making a first step towards tackling the crisis by launching a pilot donor scheme Voluntary organ donations are a necessary part of a medical sector. Lives can be saved, knowledge improved and the fabric of society strengthened through strangers showing compassion for one another. Science has improved to the point that most transplants are now considered low-risk. Establishing a mechanism to ensure that organs are available when they are needed is essential. A daunting task lies ahead. Authorities launched a national organ donation system last year but it has failed to attract interest. Overhauling outdated rules that donors can only be relatives of patients is the easy part. A long-time policy of harvesting organs from executed prisoners has damaged the transplant industry's reputation. This had long been suspected, but was acknowledged only recently by Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu . Most challenging, though, is overcoming superstitions and a traditional belief that a body must remain whole out of respect for the dead. There is a global shortage of organs for transplant. Death is a difficult subject for most societies and asking people to donate while they are alive, or giving relatives that authority, remains touchy. Educating about the benefits is at the core of changing ways. For the mainland, there are the added incentives of saving more lives and improving image while helping start much-needed health reforms. Trading in organs has no place in a society. The mainland's thriving market should be stamped out through education and strictly enforced laws. Guangdong is to be lauded for moving against one of the worst aspects of the country's embrace of the free market.