China's Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed [zh] the open secret that most of the organs used in transplant surgeries are harvested from death row inmates in China, in a group meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) held on March 7, 2012.
Since 2006, the Chinese authority has denied the fact that transplanted organs are harvested from executed criminals, insisting that such accusations are slander from western media.
Now, however, the deputy director of MOH has finally admitted that given the lack of donated organs, executed criminals have become the main source of organs used in transplant operations in China. According to statistics uncovered by local magazine Caijing in February 2012, an average of 10,000 organ transplant surgeries are performed in China each year, and currently a total of 1.5 million Chinese people are awaiting for the surgery. As a result of the huge demand and profit, illegal organ transplant operations have now entered the market.
According to Caijing's report:
Low supply and high demand has allowed a select few to reap high profits: “donors” generally only receive about 20,000 yuan for their kidneys while recipients must often pay more than 200,000 yuan for transplants. The difference is divided among doctors, hospitals and brokers. High profits have attracted a large number of brokers who not only cater to domestic market demand, but also organize foreigners to travel to China for illegal transplant surgery.
Such illegal organ transplant network accounts for stories such as a teenage kid selling his kidney for an iPad2 last year, or a man in Shenzhen who last month sold one of his and then tried to cover it up.
Shortly after the news that criminals’ organs are harvested was confirmed, many netizens raised questions about the procedure of securing agreement from inmates. Weibo user Xue Chuan, for one, is stunned [zh] by the connection between the death penalty and organ transplants:
Xie Youping from Shanghai wonders [zh]:
Human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan questions [zh] whether criminals really had a choice in the matter, given their circumstances:
Menglixunmeng was looking toward [zh] more systematic monitoring of organ transplant in China:
According to MOH, no transparent system to match patients with organ donors exists in China, but authorities will develop a mechanism in collaboration with the Red Cross China in the near future.