March 14, 2007
Top surgeons are advising New Zealanders not to go to China for organ transplants - for safety and ethical reasons.
China is under scrutiny amid claims the organs of thousands of executed prisoners are being harvested every year, without consent, for use in the burgeoning transplant industry.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is advising New Zealand patients thinking about having a transplant in China to consider where the organ may have come from. John McCall of the Liver Transplant Unit at Auckland Hospital says China does not have well-developed systems, such as those in New Zealand and other Western countries, for deceased donor transplants.
Professor McCall says it is assumed that organs used for transplants in China come mainly or exclusively from executed prisoners. China rejects claims that followers of the banned Falun Gong movement may have been caught up in the organ trade.
Renal transplant physician Ian Dittmer says he knows of two patients who have gone to China for kidneys and returned with health problems.
Surgeons are urging the New Zealand Government to act, but a spokesman for the foreign affairs minister says the Government cannot verify the claims.
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