Implementation of China's new policies on organ procurement: An important but challenging step forward

Martin, Dominique E. and Tibell, Annika 2015, Implementation of China's new policies on organ procurement: An important but challenging step forward, Hepatobiliary surgery and nutrition, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 142-144, doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2304-3881.2015.04.01.

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Title Implementation of China's new policies on organ procurement: An important but challenging step forward
Author(s) Martin, Dominique E.ORCID iD for Martin, Dominique E.
Tibell, Annika
Journal name Hepatobiliary surgery and nutrition
Volume number 4
Issue number 2
Start page 142
End page 144
Total pages 3
Publisher AME Publishing Company
Place of publication Hong Kong
Publication date 2015-04
ISSN 2304-3881
Keyword(s) Bioethics
Organ procurement
Summary In the last decade, health authorities in China have made a series of policy announcements concerning organ procurement programs and changes in practice have been intermittently reported (1). The international community of transplant professionals has followed these reports closely, preoccupied with one fundamental issue: the procurement of organs from executed prisoners, a practice that for many years has provided the majority of organs transplanted in China. Sharif et al. describe this practice as “ethically indefensible” (2), an evaluation that reflects the position embraced by the international community for more than two decades (3-5). Sharif et al. express concern that whilst some transplant programs in China have ceased using organs from executed prisoners, others continue to do so, and that all organs procured from the deceased may be allocated through a collective pool as part of the new China Organ Transplant Response System, effectively “laundering” organs obtained from prisoners. They also note that one of the new strategies to encourage deceased donation of organs among the Chinese public has involved financial incentives for donor families, another practice that has been strongly critiqued by the international professional community and global health authorities (6,7).

In China and in the United States, proponents of organ procurement from executed prisoners have argued that prisoners should not be denied the option to donate organs after their death if they so choose, as this may provide them or their families solace and an opportunity for moral, spiritual or social redemption (8,9). However, the predominant argument in favour of the practice appears to be essentially pragmatic: prisoners condemned to death represent an additional pool of potential “donors” with organs that will otherwise “go to waste” (10). In contrast, international professional societies and the World Health Organization among others have argued that the practice not only violates the core principles of medical ethics but also thereby undermines efforts to establish a sufficient supply of deceased donor organs. In this commentary, we reaffirm the ethics policy of The Transplantation Society (TTS) concerning organ procurement from executed prisoners (4), and briefly discuss the implications of this policy for international professional engagement with China at this time of significant evolution of Chinese organ procurement programs.
Language eng
DOI 10.3978/j.issn.2304-3881.2015.04.01
Field of Research 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 929999 Health not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, AME Publishing Company
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