03/23/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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"Organ donations from condemned prisoners will be abolished within five years"

For years, Beijing has tried to sidestep the issue, but this week, it admitted that death row prisoners have been used for organ donations after their execution. The decision to stop does not stem from any humanitarian considerations, but from the fact that organs come from donors with high infection rates.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China plans to abolish the transplanting of organs from executed prisoners within five years; instead, it will try to spur more citizens to donate, a top health official said.

After refusing to acknowledge the practice for a long time, Chinese authorities admitted it last Sunday, insisting however that only prisoners who volunteered their organs were involved, Xinhua reported today, citing Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu.

The decision does not stem from any humanitarian considerations, but from the fact that the practice is very risky.

Prisoner organ donations are not ideal because condemned inmates have high rates of fungal and bacterial infections, Huang said.

"Therefore, the long-term survival rates for people with transplanted organs in China are always below those of people in other countries," Xinhua cited the vice health minister as saying.

In the past, China has been criticised by the international community for this practice. According to the United Nations, which sent an envoy in 2009 to visit Chinese prisons, local authorities put pressures on prisoners to donate.

"Organ donations from condemned prisoners will be abolished within five years," Xinhua wrote, citing Huang.

Instead, hospitals will rely on a national organ donation system that is being set up. Trial systems have already been launched in 16 provinces.

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