China to phase out use of prisoners’ organs for transplants

Dr. Niraj Desai flushes a kidney after it was removed from a donor during a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital June 26, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The US Supreme Court is expected to announce their decision on the US President Barack Obama's healthcare law on June 28. The ruling could affect millions of its residents and determine whether the state receives billions in new federal revenue. The full impact, of course, depends on how the justices rule, since they could throw out the law entirely, declare it all constitutional, or reject portions of it, such as mandated insurance for most Americans.     AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)
Dr. Niraj Desai flushes a kidney after it was removed from a donor during a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital Credit: Getty Images

China will start phasing out its decades-long practice of using the organs of executed prisoners for transplant operations in November, a senior official said on Thursday, as it pushes to mandate the use of organs from ethical sources in hospitals.

China remains the only country in the world that still systematically uses organs extracted from executed prisoners in transplant operations, a practice that has drawn widespread international criticism. Many Chinese view the practice as a way for criminals to redeem themselves.

But officials have recently spoken out against the practice of harvesting organs from dead inmates, saying it “tarnishes the image of China.”

The health ministry will begin enforcing the use of organs from voluntary donors allocated through a fledging national program at a meeting set to be held in November, former deputy health minister Huang Jiefu, who still heads the ministry’s organ transplant office, told Reuters.

“I am confident that before long all accredited hospitals will forfeit the use of prisoner organs,” Huang said.

The first batch of all 165 Chinese hospitals licensed for transplants will promise to stop using organs harvested from death row inmates at the November meeting, he added. Huang did not specify the exact number.

MEETING “ACCEPTED ETHICAL STANDARDS”

An Australian-trained liver transplant surgeon, Huang said the China Organ Transplant Committee will ensure that the “source of the organs for transplantation must meet the commonly accepted ethical standards in the world”.

That effectively means the use of prisoner organs at approved hospitals will come to an end, but the timeframe remains 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 percent of transplanted organs in China came from executed prisoners and the number has dipped to under 54 percent so far this year, according to figures provided by Huang.

At a meeting in August last year, Huang, deputy health minister at the time, told officials that top leaders had decided to reduce dependency on prisoners’ organs, according to a transcript of the meeting obtained by Reuters.

Rights groups say many organs are taken from prisoners without their consent or their family’s knowledge, something the government denies.

So far, more than 1,000 organ donors have come through the new system, benefiting at least 3,000 patients, Huang said.

Voluntary organ donation in China has already risen from 63 cases in all of 2010 to a current average of 130 per month so far this year, Huang added.

However, not all donated organs are currently allocated through the new program, leaving room for human interference, one of the main challenges the reform faces.

Supply still falls far short of demand due in part to the traditional Chinese belief that bodies should be buried or cremated intact. An estimated 300,000 patients are waitlisted every year for organ transplants and only about one in 30 ultimately will receive a transplant.

The shortage has driven a trade in illegal organ trafficking and in 2007 the government banned organ transplants from living donors, except spouses, blood relatives and step or adopted family members.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Thousands protest in New York over Eric Garner…

The Reverend Al Sharpton led thousands of chanting but peaceful activists in a march across Staten Island on Saturday to protest the death of Eric Garner.

International

Egypt calls for Gaza ceasefire as fighting rages

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated.

National

SpaceX rocket terminated in Texas test flight

A Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket suffered an anomaly shortly after launch on a test flight, triggering its automatic termination system.

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

Music

Arcade Fire concert review, Massachusetts, Aug. 19

Arcade Fire take the opposite approach of "Shut up and play the hits," and it works in their favor on the "Reflektor" tour.

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…