Organ Procurement From Executed Prisoners in China

By The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons

Organ procurement from executed prisoners in China is internationally condemned, yet this practice continues unabated in 2014. This is despite repeated announce- ments from Chinese authorities that constructive measures have been undertaken to conform to accepted ethical standards. While there is unanimous agreement on the unethical nature of using organs from executed prisoners, due to its limitations on voluntary and informed consent, there is insufficient coverage of forced organ procurement from prisoners of conscience without consent. Strategies to influence positive change in China over the last few decades have failed to bring this practice to an end. While organ donation and transplantation services in China have undergone considerable structural changes in the last few years, fundamental attempts to shift practice to ethically sourced organs have floundered. In this article, we discuss the organ trade in China, reflect upon organ procurement from executed prisoners (including both capital prisoners and prisoners of conscience) and provide an overview of contradictory Chinese efforts to halt forced organ procurement from executed prisoners. Finally, we highlight current actions being taken to address this issue and offer comprehensive recommendations to bring this ethically indefensible practice to an immediate end.