Can Volunteer Program Clean Up Donor System?

A senior health official claimed that China will curb the use executed prisoners as a source of organ transplants while bolstering a volunteer donor program that it hopes will help to limit the much-criticized practice:

Nearly 1.5 million people in China need organ transplants each year, but only 10,000 can get one, according to China’s Health Ministry. Many of those organs are harvested from executed criminals.

Rights groups have accused China of harvesting organs from executed prisoners without their consent – something that Beijing denies.

A trial program has led to more than 1,200 voluntary organ donations since March 2010, China’s official Xinhua news agency cited vice minister of health Huang Jiefu as saying.

When expanded, the ministry’s program, established with the Red Cross Society of China, will mean “less reliance on the use of organ donations from prisoners that have been sentenced to death”, Xinhua said.

Xinhua News has more on the new program and the government’s efforts to reduce its reliance on donations from condemned prisoners:

According to a report by chinanews.com, the project, jointly established by the ministry and the Red Cross Society of China, resulted in more than 100 cases being performed in Guangdong. The province had the most number of donations.

In 2007, China’s State Council, or the Cabinet, issued its first regulations on transplants, banning organizations and individuals from trading human organs.

The 2011 amendments to China’s Criminal Law also introduced three clauses dedicated to organ-related crimes, under which convicted organizers of organ trafficking activities may face fines or prison terms of more than five years.

Under the law, criminals convicted of “forced organ removal, forced organ donation or organ removal from juveniles” could face punishment for homicide.

See also CDT coverage on the issue, one of China’s most infamous human rights violations, and an article from World Affairs from earlier this year which calls out China’s “Organ Donation Nightmare.”