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Chinese Government Admits Executed Prisoners Organ Trade

London Telegraph | November 17, 2006
Richard Spencer

China has acknowledged for the first time the scale of "transplant tourism" in which the organs of executed prisoners are sold to foreigners and are to force doctors to pledge to stop the practice.

The announcement is the government's most serious response yet to allegations that hospitals are conducting a lucrative and expanding trade in selling organs to foreigners arriving on tourist visas.

According to state media, Huang Jiefu, the vice-health minister, told a summit for transplant doctors in Guangzhou this week: "Most of the organs from cadavers are from executed prisoners."

advertisementThis had been repeatedly denied by the government.

A ministry spokesman also said that "wealthier people, including foreign patients" could jump waiting lists because they were willing to pay more.

Under new rules, foreigners would only be allowed to come to China for transplants under regulations yet to be announced but that would conform to international standards, the summit was told. Priority would be given to the huge numbers estimated at more than one million on China's own waiting lists.

All practitioners would have to sign up to the rules, which also include a ban on "organ trading" buying organs from live donors and transporting organs for sale outside China.

The rules appear to be a direct response to allegations dating back to the 1980s that foreigners were arriving in China for transplants and waiting as little as two weeks for a donor to be found. In some cases, it was alleged that prisoners were being "executed to order", to match the blood types of recipients. These claims were repeatedly denied by government spokesmen.

In December, The Daily Telegraph was invited to act as a middleman offering organs for sale to patients fed up with waiting lists in Britain.

Patients would be charged £22,000 for a kidney and £34,000 for a liver transplant.

The government's first response was to issue new regulations in April banning the trade in live organs, and insisting that all donations should be with consent, even in the case of executed prisoners.

But this failed to address the fact that donations were already supposed to be with consent, a rule widely believed to be ignored.

The regulations also only applied to ministry of health hospitals. Most transplants on foreigners are carried out at military hospitals run by the People's Liberation Army.

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