China to stop harvesting organs from executed prisoners from next year
The mainland – which has long been criticised by international human rights groups for using organs harvested from executed prisoners as its main source of organ transplants – will completely ban the practice from next year.
All organs used in future transplants must be from donors, the Southern Metropolis News quoted Dr Huang Jiefu as saying. Huang is former deputy director of the health ministry and director of the China Organ Donation and Transplant Committee.
Major transplant centres had already stopped using executed prisoners’ organs, said Huang, who chaired an industry forum in Kunming on Wednesday.
About 10,000 organ transplants are performed on the mainland each year and about 300,000 patients are on waiting lists, he said.
China has one of the lowest voluntary organ donation rates in the world. Just 0.6 people out of every one million citizens have signed up to donate their organs when they die, the doctor said. This compares with Spain’s high rate of organ donors – 37 donors for every one million citizens.
“What we can’t deny is that there are two reasons behind the slow development of organ donation in China,” he said. “Besides the lack of enthusiasm … due to the traditional mindset, people have concerns about whether the organs will be allocated in a fair, open and just way.”
The doctor added that there were just 169 hospitals on the mainland qualified to carry out transplants. The number was far from ideal, he said.
But Huang remains optimistic about the future, he said, because voluntary organ donation rolled out across the country last year had seen some results.
“Only 1,448 people donated from 2010 to 2013, but that number [from January this year until now] has risen to 1,500. I believe the situation will get better and better,” he said.