Monday, August 31, 2009

Quite a gift of candor to global health and human rights

China Admits to Organ Harvesting

Published August 29, 2009 @ 08:04PM PT

(photo credit: Daquelle manera)

The China Daily, a government-controlled Chinese newspaper, admitted Wednesday that organ donation in the country was heavily dependent on executed prisoners. This is the first government admission of the link between executions and organ donations.

They made the admission in an article published on August 26 that focused on China's new Red Cross-run national organ donation system. It stated that "China launched a national organ donation system yesterday in a bid to gradually shake off its long-time dependence on executed prisoners as a major source of organs for transplants and as part of efforts to crack down on organ trafficking."

I am stunned. This was the stuff of shady rumors and hand-letters signs carried by crackpots. I can't believe that the Chinese government is really admitting this, and I can't believe there hasn't been more outcry from the global community. It's a very canny move by the government of China, I guess. Deny everything until you have a system in place to fix things. Then what can anyone do? You're already trying to fix it. As an added bonus, if the Chinese population doesn't start singing up for voluntary organization donation, then the government can blame the people when they go back to using prisoner donations.

The article does not address some of the darker claims made about Chinese organ harvesting. The worst I have heard is that the Chinese governments advertises to "organ tourists" about clean-living Falun Gong prisoners, and then executes condemned prisoners once their organs are sold. This also leads to an implication that the government of China has an incentive to arrest, condemn, and execute constant flow of prisoners.  (And if you think that sounds paranoid, think how crazy the organ harvesting sounded until the government of China admitted it was true.)

I don't think those darker fears are irrational. If a Chinese government mouthpiece is admitting that "Some just ignore legal procedures regarding organ donations from executed prisoners and make a fat profit," and "organ middlemen have been faking documents in order to make a person who is desperately in need of money be considered ‘emotionally connected' to the recipients," you have to wonder what they're not saying.

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