Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Frank Delmonico and the recent organ transplant meeting at the Vatican

When I was in Trento, I participated in a panel on markets for human organs, and had the chance to ask Dr. Ignazio Marino about the recent
Vatican statement on organ transplantation, which I pointed out seemed to conflate killing prisoners for their organs with much more ordinary attempts to increase voluntary organ donation.  Dr Marino replied that this had been part of the diplomacy involved with the Chinese delegation.

Here's an article about the backstory to some of that diplomacy, and the role played by my old friend Frank Delmonico

One doctor’s war against global organ trafficking
By Ryan Connelly Holmes And Dan Sagalyn May 29, 2017

"A controversy was brewing. Delmonico, a leading voice on ethical organ transplantation, had planned a February 2017 summit in Rome for representatives of more than 40 countries to discuss the ethics of transplanting organs and to sign a pledge to uphold high standards.

"But there was a hitch: A key invitee to the forum was Dr. Jiefu Huang, who has led reform of China’s organ donation practices. Critics, including some in the Vatican, wanted at the summit no representatives of China, which for years sold and transplanted organs from executed prisoners.

"Delmonico, however, saw the Chinese presence as a good thing. It was “an opportunity for them to proclaim a new day and be accountable” that the practice has stopped, he said. In fact, some of the Chinese old guard have attacked Huang because of his efforts to stamp out unethical and corrupt methods of obtaining organs.
"Pope Francis did not attend, but Marcelo S├ínchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences did. In a significant development, China signed the summit’s statement condemning the use of organs from prisoners and advocating the creation of national laws to prosecute transplant-related crimes. Beijing’s two delegates were joined by 75 other signatories representing more than 50 institutions and more than 40 nations at the conference. Delmonico called it a “seminal event” in the fight for global reform."

I hope that this effort at diplomacy, aimed at ending the practice of using executions as the primary source of organs in China, will not be a source of confusion regarding attempts to increase the availability of organ transplants by ethical means.

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