Officials within the Ministry of Health have said more than once over the last three or four years that about two-thirds of the organs that are used in transplants in China come from executed prisoners.
Now we don’t know for sure how many executed prisoners there are per year, but estimates vary from 1,500 to 5,000 – 7,000. There are 10,000 organ transplants per year, roughly.
What we also know is that there are mobile execution buses and vans in which a prisoner is executed [usually by legal injection]. This makes it easier to extract organs and to have the buses or vans at the hospitals so that the organs can be rushed in and transplanted into the person who is already on the table.
[It is] said that 90% of those are taken from cadavers which suggests that 10% aren’t – that the people would still be alive.
There has, in the past, been a thriving black market in organs in China because, while there are 10,000 organ transplants per year, there are 1.5 million Chinese waiting for organ transplants per year. That a ratio of about 150:1 as opposed to in the U.S where it’s like 5:1, so there’s a lot of incentive for people who want to make a little money to look for people who are willing to sell their organs – a kidney, for instance.
The government has been cracking down on that and in fact made it illegal in 2007 to trade in organs, but it still happens with prisoners. Certainly too, the way that transplants are done, the family could almost order up an execution – we need a kidney; we need a liver; you want to find a death row inmate with a healthy liver.
People are accused of a crime and then are on death row. How soon they are executed and whether they are harvested for organs is a separate question. Once you’re on death row, you could be executed at any time. At that point then, if you’ve got, for instance, someone who is an alcoholic and someone who is not and you’re looking for a liver transplant you’d probably pick the one who is not.
I think in some circles people will say, “Well, if they are on death row they must have done something wrong.” But then, there are other people who are more critical thinkers who know that there are a lot of people on death row who have gone through very swift trials; they’ve been accused by someone, there’s been scanty evidence; a confession has been obtained through torture and sometimes some of those people are executed within minutes or hours of receiving their sentence.
UK transplant patients go to China for organs from executed prisoners
Websites of Chinese transplant centres openly tout in English for business from foreigners. Although they do not suggest the organs come from executed prisoners, they offer a fast supply – between a week and a maximum of a month for a kidney transplant. One website declares: “Viscera providers can be found immediately!” The cost of a kidney transplant is put at $62,000 (£34,600), and a heart transplant at $140,000.
Prof Wigmore told BBC Radio 5 Live that the speed with which donors and patients were matched implied prisoners were being selected before execution. “The weight of evidence has accumulated to a point over the last few months where it’s really incontrovertible in our opinion. We feel that it’s the right time to take a stance against this practice.”
My two cents:
The Chinese are more overt about their harvesting operations. Farrington states:
“the Chinese harvest organs from the bodies of the executed, which are used in high-value trade, usually without seeking permission from the prisoners or their relatives. The preference is clearly for lethal injection as the body parts remain in better condition than if the donor is shot.”
But, the US also harvests organs from (executed) prisoners. Farrington states about Gary Gilmore’s execution in the US:
“Gilmore’s body was immediately taken to hospital where transplantable organs were removed.”
Source: Maximum Security by Karen Farrington (2007)
Prisoner organ donation proposal worrisome
A South Carolina proposal to shorten prisoners’ sentences in exchange for bone marrow or kidney donations is drawing fire from physicians and ethicists. Some doctors say the legislation was well-intentioned, but that it is grossly unethical and probably violates federal law.
Democratic State Sen. Ralph Anderson proposed two bills: One would release prisoners 60 days early for donating bone marrow; the other would give good-behavior credit of up to 180 days to “any inmate who performs a particularly meritorious or humanitarian act,” which Anderson said could include living kidney donation.
Inspired by a guest speaker at his church who noted the shortage of black bone marrow donors — blacks account for 8% of donors, but represent 12% of the population — Anderson began to think about how to expand the pool of black donors.
“I prayed over it and I thought about the prison system,” said Anderson, an African-American who represents Greenville. “We have enough people in there that I believe, with some encouragement, they will be standing in line to donate.”
About 65% of South Carolina’s roughly 30,000 inmates are black, and 70% of the 572 patients on the state’s kidney waiting list are African-American, according to Donate Life South Carolina. Nationally, 18 people die every day waiting for a transplant.
The ability for free and informed consent without coercion “is totally absent in the prisoner’s circumstance,” Dr. Friedman said. The prevalence of mental illness and sexually transmitted diseases among prison populations, the cost of follow-up care for donors, and the incentive for inmates to lie about their health are other major flaws with the proposal, she added.
Legal experts said that reduced prison sentences in exchange for organ or tissue donation would likely count as “valuable consideration,” which is banned under the National Organ Transplant Act.
“To essentially say, ‘Your freedom or your organ,’ that’s pretty coercive.”