Friday, October 21, 2016

China, transplants, and executed prisoners: is the situation getting clearer?

A recent meeting in China cautiously suggests that there may be some concrete change in the practice of transplanting organs from executed prisoners:
Doctors hail China’s pledge to stop harvesting inmate organs

"Doctors from the World Health Organization and the Montreal-based Transplantation Society who were invited to the conference by China praised Chinese officials for reforms they have made in the transplant system, including a ban put in place last year on using organs from executed inmates.

"Doubts persist that China is accurately reporting figures or meeting its pledge given its severe shortage of organ donors and China’s long-standing black-market organ trade. By its own figures, China has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world, and even the system’s advocates say it needs hundreds of additional hospitals and doctors.

"While China suppresses most discussions about human rights, government officials and state media have publicly talked about their commitment to ending a practice opposed by doctors and human rights groups due to fears that it promotes executions and coercion.
"Others offered praise for Chinese officials, but stopped short of saying whether they could confirm China had stopped using executed inmates’ organs.

“It’s not a matter for us to prove to you that it’s zero,” said Dr. Francis Delmonico, a longtime surgeon and a professor at Harvard Medical School. “It’s a matter for the government to fulfill what is the law, just as it is in the other countries of the world that we go to.”

"China is believed to perform more executions than any other country, though the government does not disclose how many.

"The former vice minister of health, Dr. Huang Jiefu, publicly acknowledged in 2005 that China harvested executed inmates’ organs for transplant, and a paper he coauthored six years later reported that as many as 90 percent of Chinese transplant surgeries using organs from dead people came from those put to death.

"Huang has also responded to a report earlier this year that a Canadian patient apparently received a kidney from an executed inmate by announcing that the doctor and the hospital in question were suspended from performing more transplants."

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