China: Organs harvested from death row prisoners

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According to an article in the China Daily newspaper on 26 August, executed prisoners currently provide 65% of all transplant organs in China. Until now, Amnesty International had estimated this figure at 90%.

In theory, prisoners give their consent to have their organs harvested but given the conditions in which they are imprisoned, this consent is no doubt obtained under duress. These organs go a long way towards helping the organ shortage as about 1.5 million people in China need transplants but only about 10,000 operations are performed annually. The Chinese Vice-Health Minister announced the creation of a body to manage organ donation in a more transparent manner.

Dissident Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese camps, provided proof in a documentary filmed for the BBC that China sold organs harvested from death-row prisoners to wealthy foreigners. These revelations shocked international opinion as harvesting organs requires the person to be executed very close to the hospital where the transplant is to take place. China holds the world record for executions: 1718 in 2008, according to Amnesty International.

Libération (Hélène Despic-Popovic) 28/08/09

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