See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Citizens Call for Public Monitoring of Organ Transplantation

China's Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed [zh] the open secret that most of the organs used in transplant surgeries are harvested from death row inmates in China, in a group meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) held on March 7, 2012.

Since 2006, the Chinese authority has denied the fact that transplanted organs are harvested from executed criminals, insisting that such accusations are slander from western media.

Now, however, the deputy director of MOH has finally admitted that given the lack of donated organs, executed criminals have become the main source of organs used in transplant operations in China. According to statistics uncovered by local magazine Caijing in February 2012, an average of 10,000 organ transplant surgeries are performed in China each year, and currently a total of 1.5 million Chinese people are awaiting for the surgery. As a result of the huge demand and profit, illegal organ transplant operations have now entered the market.

According to Caijing's report:

Low supply and high demand has allowed a select few to reap high profits: “donors” generally only receive about 20,000 yuan for their kidneys while recipients must often pay more than 200,000 yuan for transplants. The difference is divided among doctors, hospitals and brokers. High profits have attracted a large number of brokers who not only cater to domestic market demand, but also organize foreigners to travel to China for illegal transplant surgery.

Such illegal organ transplant network accounts for stories such as a teenage kid selling his kidney for an iPad2 last year, or a man in Shenzhen who last month sold one of his and then tried to cover it up.

Shortly after the news that criminals’ organs are harvested was confirmed, many netizens raised questions about the procedure of securing agreement from inmates. Weibo user Xue Chuan, for one, is stunned [zh] by the connection between the death penalty and organ transplants:

1、利益是明摆着的,多杀多赚?2、收入归谁?——太可怕了。

1. The vested interest is so obvious. The more death sentences, the more profitable the business becomes. 2. Who share the profits? — this is too terrifying.

Xie Youping from Shanghai wonders [zh]:

思考:1、器官移植是否经过了死囚家属同意;2、没有家属的死囚遗体,其器官移植由哪个机构决定;3、死囚遗体无家属认领时,谁享受了其器官移植所产生的收益。

Time to think: 1. Did the family agree to the organ transplant operation? 2. For those without family, which institution decides on behalf of executed criminals how their organs are to be used? 3. If the family doesn't claim the body, who then benefits from the organ transplant?

Human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan questions [zh] whether criminals really had a choice in the matter, given their circumstances:

我认为被判处死刑的罪犯完全处于弱势地位,为了防止司法机关强迫罪犯捐献器官,为了让家属相信是罪犯自愿捐献器官,在与死刑犯签订捐献器官协议时,应当通知其家属到场见证

For those who receive the death penalty, they have no bargaining power in prison. To prevent judicial authorities from forcing criminals to donate organs, family members should bear witness to the signing of donation agreements.

Menglixunmeng was looking toward [zh] more systematic monitoring of organ transplant in China:

公开承认使用死囚器官,增加透明度,尊重公众的知情权,尊重死囚的自主选择,制定更加严密和科学的器官使用法律规范和程序,切断非法器官移植的利益链条

The open confirmation of the harvesting of executed criminals’ organs would help bring about the development of a transparent system for monitoring organ transplants. The public should have the right to know, and criminals facing execution should have the right to choose. Authorities should develop a law to restrict organ transplants and bring down the illegal organ transplant network.

According to MOH, no transparent system to match patients with organ donors exists in China, but authorities will develop a mechanism in collaboration with the Red Cross China in the near future.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site