China to phase out harvesting organs from executed prisoners

The mainland will cut down on the unethical harvesting of organs from executed prisoners early next year when a new organ donation system is set up, a government expert said yesterday.

Dr Wang Haibo , director of the Ministry of Health‘s China Organ Transplant Response System Centre, was quoted in the World Health Organisation‘s November journal as saying that the unethical and non-sustainable form of organ harvesting would gradually be abandoned.

“The implementation of the new national system [on organ donation and transplantation] will start early next year, at the latest,” said Wang, also assistant director of the China Liver Transplant Registry at the University of Hong Kong‘s school of medicine.

“While we cannot deny the executed prisoner’s right to donate organs, an organ transplantation system relying on death-row prisoners’ organs is not ethical or sustainable.

“Now there is consensus among China’s transplant community that the new system will relinquish the reliance on organs from executed convicts.”

In an e-mail reply to the South China Morning Post yesterday, Wang said the new national system “represented a new organ source and could mark the initiation of the phase out”.

Wang said the number of organ transplants on the mainland had stood at around “8,000 to 10,000 in the past few years”, with 35 per cent coming from living donors. However, the exact number of organs harvested from executed convicts was unknown.

The mainland ranks second in the world in terms of the number of organ transplants performed each year, behind the US. But the rapid development of such surgery on the mainland has been criticised as barbaric, since many of the organs are harvested from executed prisoners, who may not have given consent.

In 2007, China passed a human organ transplant regulation to guide the development of the field.

“It has been five years since the law was passed and now it’s being revised to address the challenges of establishing a new national system, such as defining the role of nationally accountable organisations and their responsibilities in line with WHO guidelines,” Wang told the WHO journal.

He said the Red Cross Society of China had been commissioned by the Ministry of Health to run the donation system, which had been developed by researchers at the University of Hong Kong.

“It is free of human intervention and monitored by many bodies to ensure the transparency, fairness and traceability of organ procurement and allocation,” Wang said.

He added that a public awareness campaign encouraging organ donation would be required.

Source: SCMP “China to phase out harvesting organs from executed prisoners”
 


Categories: Human Rights & Social Issues

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