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China Plans To Stop Relying On Death-Row Inmates for Organ Donations

Joshua Berlinger

The Chinese government will embark upon a new program early next year in order to create, implement and streamline a new national organ donation system. Currently, China heavily relies on the harvested organs of executed criminals to supply transplant patients.

"While we cannot deny the executed prisoner’s right to donate organs, an  organ transplantation system relying on  death-row prisoners’ organs is not ethical  or sustainable," Wang Haibo, the director  of the China Organ Transplant Response System Research Center of the Ministry of Health, told the WHO in an interview.

According to ministry statistics ,  1.5  million   people  on the Chinese mainland  need   organ   transplants   each   year ,  but   only  10,000 receive them due to short supply.  Wang was appointed last year by China's health ministry to design a system which allocates organs to patients in need,  according to Al Jazeera .

"Now there is consensus among China’s transplant community that the new system will relinquish the reliance on organs from executed convicts," Wang added. "The implementation of the new national system will start early next year at the latest. This will also mark the start of phasing out the old practice."

The organ transplant system in China has long been considered "opaque, profit-driven and unethical." Many speculate that Chinese prisoners are pressured to donate their organs against their will. And although the trafficking of human organs was officially banned in 2007, many criminals still engage in such activity.

The Red Cross Society of China has been commissioned by the Chinese Ministry of Health to both run the organ donation system and act as a legal watchdog.

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