CHINA. TOP GUANGZHOU HOSPITAL DOES ROARING TRADE IN EXECUTED PRISONER ORGANS, EDITORIAL
March 31, 2005: it was reported that the No. 1 and No. 3 Hospitals affiliated to the prestigious Sun Yat-sen University in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was carrying out a lucrative trade in liver transplants using organs harvested from executed convicts.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia's Mandarin service, a nurse at the No. 3 Hospital said: "Mostly, yes," when asked if transplant organs were taken from the bodies of executed prisoners. Asked if the organs were removed from the bodies before death, she replied: "Of course they are." "They are living organs...very healthy," the nurse said.
Rights groups had long charged China with a deliberate policy of linking the criminal justice system and local hospitals in an attempt to meet growing demand for transplants since Chinese hospitals became proficient at them in the early 1990s. An official who answered the phone at the No. 3 Hospital's Transplant Center said a liver transplant could cost between 200,000 and 300,000 yuan (US $24,000-36,000) "if all goes smoothly."
Asked if the organs came from executed prisoners, he said: "Please don't ask questions concerning these issues of supply. Anyway, we've been doing it like that for ages."
He said patients waiting for transplants could receive a liver in just a week, or if they were unlucky in a month.
Asked if the organs came from living people, he said: "You don't need to concern yourselves with that. All our patients undergo the same procedures."
Beijing had previously angrily denied reports by Chinese doctors, rights groups and US government officials of a system-wide trade in the organs of executed prisoners.
Amnesty International had issued a report on organ harvesting in 1993, calling on the Chinese government to ban the practice, which it said rarely happened with the free and informed consent of the prisoner. "The use of organs from this source continues in China, reportedly on a widespread scale," the organization reported in 1995, citing a paper suggesting that as many as 90 percent of organs used in transplantations in China came from executed prisoners. A 1994 report from the New York-based Human Rights Watch gave further evidence of the practice, including the text of a government decree on the subject. (Sources: Radio Free Asia, 31/03/2005)