Effective November, China will cease harvesting the internal organs of its executed prisoners which has supported the requirements of its national organ donation system for years.
Woman wakes during surgery to harvest her organs (Reuters)
The system which was enforced in 2007 had so far performed 10,000 transplants each year, at least according to China's Ministry of Health. It likewise claimed that while 65 per cent of organ transplants were from post-mortem extraction in 2009, the remaining 35 per cent came from live donors. It did confirm however that 90 per cent of post-mortem extractions come from executed prisoners.
The abolition of the system now puts the country's 150 hospitals in frenzy to scout alternative sources in a bid to end their dependence on prisoners.
"I am confident that before long, all accredited hospitals will forfeit the use of prisoner organs," Huang Jiefu, former deputy health minister and one of the country's leading surgeons and organ transplant experts, told Reuters.
The policy, albeit enforced but with a questionable policy framework, managed to be accepted within the country because Chinese mentality welcomed it, based on a thinking that the harvesting of the prisoners' organs gives them a chance to "redeem themselves" from their crimes.
But with the new desist order, "we will ensure that the source of the organs for transplantation must meet the commonly accepted ethical standards in the world," Mr Huang said.
"It's time for China to establish a suitable organ donation system. Without public donations, China has no organs to transplant," he told China National Radio.
The new system, according to Yang Chunhua, director of the Intensive Care Unit of the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong Province, will not only improve the country's international image but also promote its medical sciences.
Because of the gross and seemingly inhumane practice, "Chinese doctors don't even have the chance to publish their papers on organ transplants in international journals," Mr Yang said.
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