China's Death-Row Organ Harvesting

The grisly rumors have been around for years, and through state-owned newspaper The China Daily, the Chinese government has finally admitted to harvesting organs from executed prisoners for medical transplants. According to the report—which also detailed the government's new voluntary donation program—two-thirds of China's transplant organs come from executed prisoners. The BBC explains that traditional biases against removing organs after death will likely deter the voluntary plan. The China Daily estimated that 65 percent of organ donations came from death-row prisoners and quoted the vice-minister of health saying that condemned prisoners were "not a proper source" for organs. The new voluntary donation program will pilot in 10 provinces and cities; but with 1.5 million Chinese citizens needing transplants, and only 10,000 operations occurring annually, ending China's death-row organ transfers (and robust organ-trafficking black market) seems unlikely in the near future.