China promises to stop harvesting organs from executed prisoners

China’s organ donation committee has announced that the country will begin the process of ending its exceptionally controversial program of harvesting organs from executed prisoners for transplants starting in 2015, according to the National Post, a move that has been praised by numerous human rights groups.

The country first announced these plans back in November of last year, and while the plan never came into fruition, the government has slowly but surely been phasing out the practice. Mashable notes that 38 main organ transplant centers have already stopped the practice, according to Huang Jiefu, the  head of the China Organ Donation and Transplant Committee.

This will undoubtedly cause issues for China’s organ transplant industry, according to the Wall Street Journal, as traditional beliefs that’re held by many in the country regard the body as sacred, and stress that it should remain intact after death. CNN notes that many Chinese citizens are also afraid that their body parts might be traded for profit on the black market, rather than for charity.

“Besides traditional beliefs, one of the major roadblocks to the development of our organ donation industry is that people are concerned that organ donation will be fair, just and transparent,” said Dr. Huang, as quoted by the New York Times. He compared China’s organ donation rate of 0.6 per one million people to Spain’s 37 per one million to highlight this point.

“It will be worth seeing not only how effective a new voluntary organ donation system is, but it will also be crucial that the government becomes fully transparent about the number of people sentenced to death, the number of executions per year, and how the executions are carried out,” Amnesty International’s William Nee told the BBC.

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