Friday, August 18, 2017

A still-skeptical view of transplantation in China

My recent post on transplantation in China reported on optimistic assessments of the move away from using executed prisoners as a source of organs. Not everyone is optimistic: here's a recent editorial from the BMJ:

Engaging with China on organ transplantation
BMJ 2017; 356 doi:  (Published 07 February 2017)
by Wendy A Rogers, Matthew P Robertson, and Jacob Lavee

It starts with a story from the bad old days, and then turns to the current environment, saying in part:

"Since January 2015, China has vowed to halt the use of organs from executed prisoners. After a pilot in 2010-14, a procurement programme using donated organs from people who meet circulatory death criteria was rolled out nationally. There are now national transplantation registries and organ procurement organisations. Yet there is no new law or regulation in China banning the use of organs from executed prisoners. Nor have existing regulations permitting the use of prisoners’ organs been rescinded. Prisoners remain a legal source of organs if they are deemed to have consented before execution, thus permitting ongoing retrieval of organs from prisoners executed with or without due process.1

"The transplant registries are not open to public scrutiny or independent verification. Inexplicably high volumes of transplantation continue to take place in China,8 and wealthy foreigners can still obtain liver and heart transplants, booked in advance.11 The Transplantation Society’s former president Francis Delmonico acknowledged under oath at a recent US Congressional hearing that he cannot verify claims about reform in China. The main evidence for reform has simply been the public assertions of Huang Jiefu and other government officials."

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