Doctors hail China’s pledge to stop harvesting inmate organs
Surgeons from around the world gathered at a conference in Beijing yesterday in China’s latest effort to fight persistent scepticism about whether its hospitals have stopped performing transplants with the organs of executed prisoners.
Doctors from the World Health Organization and the Montreal-based Transplantation Society who were invited to the conference by China praised Chinese officials for reforms they have made in the transplant system, including a ban put in place last year on using organs from executed inmates.
Doubts persist that China is accurately reporting figures or meeting its pledge given its severe shortage of organ donors and China’s longstanding black-market organ trade. By its own figures, China has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world, and even the system’s advocates say it needs hundreds of additional hospitals and doctors.
While China suppresses most discussions about human rights, government officials and state media have publicly talked about their commitment to ending a practice opposed by doctors and human rights groups due to fears that it promotes executions and coercion.
In a sign of the issue’s symbolic importance to China, the conference took place in an ornate, chandeliered ballroom inside the Great Hall of the People, the building next to Tiananmen Square that typically hosts foreign leaders and ceremonial Communist Party events.
Doctors at the conference yesterday described meeting patients and visiting hospitals around the country, and said the recorded usage of drugs given to transplant patients lined up with China’s reported numbers of transplants.