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China to quit prisoner organ donation scheme

BEIJING (AsiaNews): Although for many years, China would not acknowledge what was widely suspected, that executed bodies were robbed of organs for transplant purposes, it has now admitted that the rumours were true, by undertaking to give the practice up.

Xinhua reported on March 23 that plans to abolish the practice within five years are afoot and Huang Jiefu, the vice minister for health, said that a campaign will be undertaken to urge ordinary citizens to donate their organs voluntarily.

The vice minister said that the decision has been prompted by health reasons, as the organs of prisoners have high rates of fungal and bacterial infection.

“Therefore, the long-term survival rates for people with transplanted organs in China are always below those of people in other countries,” Xinhua cited Huang as saying.

In the past, China has been criticised by the international community for this practice. According to the United Nations, which sent an envoy in 2009 to visit Chinese prisons, local authorities put pressure on prisoners to donate.

“Organ donations from condemned prisoners will be abolished within five years,” Xinhua quoted Huang as saying.

Instead, hospitals will rely on a national organ donation system that is being set up. Trial systems have already been launched in 16 provinces.

‘Organ donations from condemned prisoners will be abolished within five years’

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