Human rights violations in organ procurement practice in China

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Abstract

Background: Over 90% of the organs transplanted in China before 2010 were procured from prisoners. Although Chinese officials announced in December 2014 that the country would completely cease using organs harvested from prisoners, no regulatory adjustments or changes in China’s organ donation laws followed. As a result, the use of prisoner organs remains legal in China if consent is obtained. Discussion: We have collected and analysed available evidence on human rights violations in the organ procurement practice in China. We demonstrate that the practice not only violates international ethics standards, it is also associated with a large scale neglect of fundamental human rights. This includes organ procurement without consent from prisoners or their families as well as procurement of organs from incompletely executed, still-living prisoners. The human rights critique of these practices will also address the specific situatedness of prisoners, often conditioned and traumatized by a cascade of human rights abuses in judicial structures. Conclusion: To end the unethical practice and the abuse associated with it, we suggest to inextricably bind the use of human organs procured in the Chinese transplant system to enacting Chinese legislation prohibiting the use of organs from executed prisoners and making explicit rules for law enforcement. Other than that, the international community must cease to abet the continuation of the present system by demanding an authoritative ban on the use of organs from executed Chinese prisoners.

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Paul, N. W., Caplan, A., Shapiro, M. E., Els, C., Allison, K. C., & Li, H. (2017). Human rights violations in organ procurement practice in China. BMC Medical Ethics, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-017-0169-x

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