CHINA TO STOP USING ORGANS FROM EXECUTED PRISONERS IN TRANSPLANTS
August 15, 2013: Huang Jiefu, head of the Health Ministry's organ transplant office, said China would start phasing out its decades-long practice of using the organs of executed prisoners for transplant operations from November.
Many Chinese view the practice as a way for criminals to redeem themselves. But officials have recently spoken out against harvesting organs from dead inmates, saying it "tarnishes the image of China".
"I am confident that before long all accredited hospitals will forfeit the use of prisoner organs," Huang said. He did not say how many of the 165 hospitals that are licensed for transplants would be among the first batch to stop using organs from executed prisoners.
Huang said the organ transplant committee would ensure that the "source of the organs for transplantation must meet the commonly accepted ethical standards in the world". That effectively meant the use of prisoners' organs at approved hospitals would come to an end, but the timeframe remained indefinite, he added.
China has launched pilot volunteer organ donor programs in 25 provinces and municipalities with the aim of creating a nationwide voluntary scheme by the end of 2013. By the end of 2012, about 64% of transplanted organs in China came from executed prisoners and the number has dipped below 54% so far this year, according to figures provided by Huang. (Sources: Reuters, 15/08/2013)