China bans organ harvesting of executed prisoners

2014-12-04 16:33
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Beijing - China will completely ban the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners from next year, state media reported on Thursday.

"From 1 January 2015, the only source of human organs in China will be voluntary organ donation by citizens after death," Yunnan Xinxi Bao newspaper quoted Dr Huang Jiefu as saying on Wednesday.

Huang, director of the National Organ Donation Committee and the China Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, was chairing an industry conference in the city of Kunming in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

According to official figures, 10 000 legal organ transplants are performed on the mainland each year but about 300 000 patients are on waiting lists.

Previously, China had been condemned by human rights groups for allowing the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners without prior consent as its main source or organs.

Huang said prisoners sentenced to death are also citizens and should be able to choose whether to donate their organs.
 Hospitals, doctors and individuals caught distributing and transplanting prisoners' organs will be "punished severely", said the former deputy director of the health ministry.

Human rights groups welcomed the latest announcement but expressed reservations.

"This is good news, but we have to be cautious about the announcement," said Maya Wang, China researcher for Human Rights Watch.

"Given the serious shortfall for organs, the huge profits in buying and selling organs, corruption among government officials, plus the opaque death penalty system, the practice of using prisoner organs may not come to an end so soon in practice," Wang told dpa.

China's plan in 2010 to phase out organ transplants from executed prisoners was hampered by a lack of donors, caused partly by traditional beliefs and by local health officials' reluctance to join the national donor system, the ministry of health had said last year.

The lack of transplant organs fuelled a black market to cater to citizens willing to pay large fees to avoid lengthy organ donor waiting lists, prompting the government to ban all trading of human organs in 2007 and revise the criminal law to provide tough punishments for traffickers.
Read more on:    hrw  |  china

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