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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Doctors join push to end organ trade

Annabel Stafford
August 28, 2008

The Age: AUSTRALIAN doctors will dob in Chinese hospitals that sell the organs
of executed prisoners to Australian patients as part of a global push
to stamp out the illegal trade in human organs.

At a meeting of transplant doctors in Sydney this month, the
Australian president of the International Transplantation Society
promised that his members would alert Chinese authorities when a
non-Chinese person travelled to China to buy an organ and would ask
the authorities to explain.

Society president Jeremy Chapman stressed that the society would not
be dobbing in patients but hospitals, which under recent changes to
Chinese law are banned from buying or selling organs.

Last year, China banned the trade in human organs and ruled that
consent must be obtained from an organ donor, after facing widespread
condemnation over the use of executed prisoners' organs for
transplant. Before those changes, there was "no doubt" Australian
patients had been buying organs taken from executed prisoners,
Professor Chapman said.

As well as the ban on organ trade, the Chinese Ministry of Health has
ruled that foreigners can get transplants in China only with
government approval, according to the BBC.

China's "determination to improve its connections with the world" had
coincided with its moves to improve human rights, particularly when it
came to the use of prisoners' organs, Professor Chapman said.

"We need to continue to assist the Chinese transplantation program to
enter the mainstream of transplantation globally through the use of
brain dead and living donors," he said.

"Certainly (China) has taken significant steps to make changes and
we're optimistic the change process will be strong and will reduce the
use of executed prisoners for transplants, which we are against under
any circumstances.

"The open question remains: what will China be like post-Olympics?"

Professor Chapman estimated about five Australians a year had received
organs from executed prisoners before the law was changed. He had
treated three patients he believed had bought organs taken from
executed prisoners. While none of them had admitted receiving a
prisoner's organs, he said: "They never ask the question, they just
buy a kidney."

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