November 18, 2006
Following years of denial, China has acknowledged that foreigners who can pay more than native Chinese have been given preference for organ transplants and that "donors" for the operation have often been executed prisoners.
WND reported in 2004 charges by the banned Falun Gong group - backed up by Chinese doctors and human rights experts - that the communist government was torturing prisoners, executing them and trafficking in their body parts.
This week, at a summit for transplant doctors held in Guangzhou, the once-denied practice was confirmed by government officials.
"Apart from a small portion of traffic victims, most of the organs from cadavers are from executed prisoners," said Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu, according to English-language China Daily newspaper. "The current organ donation shortfall can't meet demand."
A ministry spokesman also said that "wealthier people, including foreign patients" were able to move to the top of waiting lists ahead of others waiting for organs.
Some experts estimate that over 90 percent of organ transplants in China come from prisoners. Chinese transplant physician, Dr. Zhonghua Chen, said at a conference in Boston in July that Chinese doctors had transplanted 8,102 kidneys, 3,741 livers and 80 hearts in 2005, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The announcement at the Guangzhou summit followed the adoption of new rules in July for transplants. Under these regulations, foreigners would only be eligible for transplants per internationally recognized standards. The 1 million Chinese already on waiting lists would be given priority, and organ donations, even from prisoners, would be with the donor's consent.
The rules also forbid "organ trading" - paying live donors for organs that are removed and then transported outside China for transplant.
Since the law prior to the new rules already said donations were supposed to be with consent, there is some question about the new regulations' effectiveness and whether they will be ignored as well. They only apply to ministry of health hospitals, the London Telegraph reported, and most transplant operations on foreigners are done at military hospitals run by the People's Liberation Army.
With past investigations revealing kidneys offered for $40,000 and livers for $60,000, the opportunity for illicit profit will continue to plague the system.
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