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China Medicine Crime Government

China Plans To End Executed Prisoner Organ Donations Within 5 Years 214

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-considered-the-patch? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "China said that it planned to end the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners within five years, according to the state media report on Friday. Instead, China's vice minister of health Dr. Huang Jiefu said that the country will rely on a new national donation system for organ transplants at a conference in the city of Hangzhou on Thursday."
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China Plans To End Executed Prisoner Organ Donations Within 5 Years

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  • sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    one of the few things that China did that actually seemed to make sense.

    • Re:sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by madmayr (1969930) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:37AM (#39466361)
      i know this will get me downmodded - but why is this something that makes sense? imho those organs (which are most likely needed) now just go to waste, because those people will get killed either way
      • by Githaron (2462596)
        Actually, I was wondering the same thing.
        • Re:sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pankkake (877909) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:43AM (#39466405) Homepage

          Me too. Unless they kill prisoners just to get their organs.

          • Re:sure... (Score:5, Informative)

            by M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:59AM (#39466519)

            And that Sir, is where you get the moral problem.

            • Re:sure... (Score:5, Informative)

              by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:49PM (#39466953) Homepage Journal
              Citations [wikipedia.org] provided [usatoday.com]. It's pretty grisly stuff. The profitability of doing organ donations on the side, without official due process, has even motivated some jurisdictions to convict more readily. Better still, fraud is a capital offence [dailymail.co.uk].
              • (By 'due process', I just mean proper procedures, not trial. Bad choice of words.)
                • (By 'due process', I just mean proper procedures, not trial. Bad choice of words.)

                  At least in the US, that appears to be the new official definition of 'due process'.

                  • Well, it appears they're still getting a trial and investigation; it's just that the handling afterwards is sketchy. Can't exactly comment on the validity of the trials either, I suppose. Pretty solid nightmare fuel.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by SonnyDog09 (1500475)
              Larry Niven already told us how this will end in his story "The Jigsaw Man" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jigsaw_Man [wikipedia.org]
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Ihmhi (1206036)

              I've actually heard of some people who refuse to be an organ donor in the states on account of the fear of some hospitals or their families being all too ready to pull the plug on them and get those delicious organs. Organ donation is a huge business in any country.

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by M0j0_j0j0 (1250800)

                You can't have enough of that foie gras.

              • I've heard this too. A family member of mine has said that we're free to allow her organs to be used for whatever once she's dead. But she won't put 'organ donor' on her ID because she wants medical decisions that affect her to be made based entirely on her medical state, not what may or may not happen to her organs.

            • So why not fix the broken justice system, but keep harvesting the organs? Why abolish the only GOOD thing about the whole situation?

          • There are claims that the need for organs dictates when and if executions take place (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304724404577298661625345898.html):

            "Officials repeatedly make announcements every few years, but they don't appear to have a solid plan in place," said Sarah Schafer, a Hong Kong-based China researcher for Amnesty International. The dependence on prisoners for their organs influences the timing of executions in China and in many cases bars inmates from the ability to appeal the

      • i know this will get me downmodded - but why is this something that makes sense? imho those organs (which are most likely needed) now just go to waste, because those people will get killed either way

        The concern is that someone may have a mock trial and be condemned to death just because their kidneys (pancreas, liver, ...) are a match for the ailing party chairman.

      • by Xacid (560407)

        I think you two are agreeing actually.

        Re-read it as "Sure, [cancel] one of the few things that China did that actually seemed to make sense"

      • by wisty (1335733)

        > Government figures from the health ministry show that about 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only 10,000 transplants are performed annually, according to Xinhua.

        In other words, prisoner "donations" just aren't enough. FTA, they don't like using condemned prisoner organs, because they aren't usually in good shape anyway. Nobody in China wants to donate, because of cultural reasons (they are selfish? they think it's "icky"? they don't trust doctors? it's not really Buddhist? no idea).

        I'm

        • Re:sure... (Score:4, Informative)

          by koxkoxkox (879667) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:20PM (#39466681)

          Nobody in China wants to donate, because of cultural reasons (they are selfish? they think it's "icky"? they don't trust doctors? it's not really Buddhist? no idea).

          In traditional Chinese culture, it is important to preserve the body whole for the afterlife. I think the belief is that any deficiency is passed over to the afterlife.

          • by dwye (1127395)

            So cremation is right out, then?

            What did they do before modern embalming?

            • by koxkoxkox (879667)

              Cremation was introduced by the communists and is now prevalent in modern China.

              I am not sure whether they cared about preservation. The important part is to be buried whole.

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            the afterlife.

            But I thought they were a bunch of godless communists!

      • The official reason given (or one of them, anyway) is that the organs harvested are often diseased or in some way defective.

        Whatever the reason, I welcome the change. Since reading some of Larry Niven (The Jigsaw Man [wikipedia.org] in particular) I've shared his concern that once the public start to profit from the deaths of criminals they will increase the number of capital crimes, eventually to the point where people are being dismantled for mere traffic violations. This is of course a sort of reductio ad absurdum but I

        • by dwye (1127395)

          eventually to the point where people are being dismantled for mere traffic violations.

          That was REPEATED violations. Sort of like three strikes out, with Reckless Driving being the lowest level of strike. Given that people could have died in each offense, it wasn't quite so absurd as, frex, False Advertising, which also would get one sent to the organ banks.

          Of course, the ultimate was on the Home colony, where walking on the grass would and did get someone shot (at least back before the Brennan Monster killed everyone outside of the right age range with aerosolized Tree-Of-Life virus).

          • I've read about Brennan in Protector, but the only real colony story I've read was on Plateau.
            What's the one set on Home called? I'd quite like to read something new.
            • by dwye (1127395)

              There was none, until recently when he wrote a story based on Beowulf Shaeffer, Carlos Wu, and their two shared wives moving to Home after the resettlement. Do you have the four new books based around the Puppeteer Fleet Of Worlds (all co-authored with Edward M. Lerner)?

              The execution for walking on the grass (the only Terran grass patch on Home, at the time) has been discussed in passing a number of times, however.

      • TFA is very light on details but does list one reason:

        While Dr. Huang did not bring up any ethical issues involved in taking organs from prisoners at the conference, he said that organ donations from prisoners were not ideal because rates of fungal and bacterial infection in prisoner organs were quite high, and affected the long-term survival rates of those who undergo the transplants.

      • by alienzed (732782)
        It probably laid out an incentive to hand out the death penalty. Now there's no conflict of interest.
  • on the firewall of china, then the closure of a controversial forced organ donation program. hm....
    the optomistic me says china has finally decided to become a socialist democracy like switzerland. full healthcare for the masses, equal job for equal pay, clean air and fresh water and heck even a pound of tea and a stockpot of porkbelly for everyone. who needs the american trade model, lets cash in and build a better tomorrow for us all!

    but seriously this is probably a controlled set of government refo
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:43AM (#39466397)

      on the firewall of china, then the closure of a controversial forced organ donation program. hm....

      the optomistic me says china has finally decided to become a socialist democracy like switzerland. full healthcare for the masses, equal job for equal pay, clean air and fresh water and heck even a pound of tea and a stockpot of porkbelly for everyone. who needs the american trade model, lets cash in and build a better tomorrow for us all!

      but seriously this is probably a controlled set of government reform actions designed to bolster trust and confidence in the chinese people. The party is largely viewed as a corrupt capitalist dictatorship, and has been the target of an escalating number of street protests recently.

      TFA says the announcement wasn't linked to ethical concerns, but only to health concerns - high rates of fungus and bacterial infections in prisoners are causing problems for the recipients.

  • It would be nice if China's end to organ harvesting from executed prisoners was a believable measure, but there is too much saving of face in that country. Administrative costs and bribery in China, given that issue, would mean that 5 years leaves too much time and opportunity to cancel it(with political pressure) or time used to move it deeper away from public view.

    If they're willing to pull all the stops to defend their own factories (a la Foxconn) to defend the indefensible, I'd imagine it'd not be some

    • by Hartree (191324)

      The cynical side of me says that we might see a rise in capital punishment rates to meet quotas before the ban comes into effect.

  • At first I thought, "Wow! Somebody actually considered the ethics of this program," but then I read, "Organ donations from prisoners were not ideal because rates of fungal and bacterial infection in prisoner organs were quite high, and affected the long-term survival rates of those who undergo the transplants." So, confronted with the need to improve the incubation environment for their organ supply and consequently the living conditions of their wards, they choose instead to ditch the program. And just lik
  • Will we see a growth of vigilantes because of this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigilante [wikipedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_squads [wikipedia.org]

    One could see this as move to privatize the business, favoring an entrepreneurial attitude!

    Very scary.

    • by cffrost (885375)

      Will we see a growth of vigilantes because of this?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigilante [wikipedia.org]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_squads [wikipedia.org]

      One could see this as move to privatize the business, favoring an entrepreneurial attitude!

      It seems to me if– in the presence of an established voluntary organ donation system, a society's organ supply is measurably affected by the withdrawal of killed prisoners' non-consensually harvested organs– that society is so morally bankrupt and dysfunctional, they need to reevaluate why they're bothering to extend lives with medicine in the first place.

      Very scary.

      Should the scenario I described comes to pass, I agree. On the other hand, living under an imperfect government that retains the authority to

      • by dwye (1127395)

        It seems to me if– in the presence of an established voluntary organ donation system, a society's organ supply is measurably affected by the withdrawal of killed prisoners' non-consensually harvested organs– that society is so morally bankrupt and dysfunctional, they need to reevaluate why they're bothering to extend lives with medicine in the first place.

        Except that they would be too morally bankrupt to bother. Did the Germans end oven cremations because the Greens objected to the air pollution?

  • by sco08y (615665) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:55AM (#39466495)

    China Plans To End Executed Prisoner Organ Donations Within 5 Years

    This word, "donations", I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • by mounthood (993037)

      This word, "donations", I do not think it means what you think it means.

      I agree. Will the government create a fair system that protects the life of the donor first and foremost? Will the system let doctors make the decisions, and ensure that all incentives encourage saving the patient, not harvesting organs? Will the rich and powerful be treated equally with the poor?

      IMO we haven't accomplished this in the west, and I have less faith in China doing the right thing.

      • by sco08y (615665)

        This word, "donations", I do not think it means what you think it means.

        I agree. Will the government create a fair system that protects the life of the donor first and foremost? Will the system let doctors make the decisions, and ensure that all incentives encourage saving the patient, not harvesting organs? Will the rich and powerful be treated equally with the poor?

        IMO we haven't accomplished this in the west, and I have less faith in China doing the right thing.

        Yes, what we really need in medicine is more muddle-headed thinking about "fairness", pejorative, conspiratorial notions of "harvesting", and class warfare.

        Because, so far it has only accomplished the absolute ban on being compensated for parts of your body, effectively killing millions of transplant patients on waiting lists. Because, you know, it's far worse to condemn someone to death by bureaucracy, than for someone to be paid for their kidney. And the reasoning is pretty much what you presented: surgic

  • why ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:03PM (#39466549) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, why?

    The countries that have voluntary donation programs are in a constant shortage for most organs. Taking them from people who are dead only shocks us because of antiquated remainders of religious nonsense, and not even that is thought through very well (your soul apparently doesn't need your body, so why would it need some parts?).

    People who get the death sentence have a very serious debt to society. Let's ignore for the moment whether or not you agree with what people in China get the death sentence for, or the death sentence in general. Even if you don't like it, you can not deny the reality.

    If you have forfeit your life to society, then why not the parts that remain? It's not like you'd have any use for them, or that taking some organs out of a corpse would be any more evil, wrong or whatever than killing someone in the first place.

    • Re:why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kbolino (920292) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:20PM (#39466677)

      The problem arises when the fact that an executed person's organs can be harvested plays into the calculus of the judge or jury who decides to sentence a person to death. Put another way, if every executed prisoner is a potential source of organs, then you've created a very perverse incentive to execute more prisoners. I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad idea, but you have to be mindful of unintended consequences.

      • Are judges and jury members more likely to need organ transplants than anyone else? If not, it makes no sense to say there's a perverse incentive for them to order more executions; they have no more interest in it than the rest of the public does.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Do judges and jury members want money?

          FIFY. Too often the answer will be "yes" and the "perverse incentive" will exist.

        • by dwye (1127395)

          Increasing the supply of waiting organs increases the chance that they will find one for the judges or jurors. It is altruism, or a nasty sort.

    • by jperl (1453911)
      I agree with you that it does not make a difference from whome the organs come from, regardless whether this is a prisoner or someone else. But I think you should have to have the possibility to opt out, again regardless whether you are in prison or not. At the end of the day it is your body and this is a human right they are taking away from you.

      The problem of too little organ donors in some countries could easily be solved with opting out systems. A lot of people are just too lazy to opt out. However a
    • Re:why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:31PM (#39466789)

      People don't oppose taking organs from the executed because of "antiquated religious nonsense". They oppose it because it gives the government a perverse incentive to execute more people.

      If you're on trial, do you really want the judge or jury thinking, even subconsciously, "gee, we could sure use that guy's organs"?

      By the way, in the future you might want to put the tiniest modicum of effort into understanding people's positions before launching into, "hurr hurr religious people are dumb and haven't thought this through."

      • by Tom (822)

        People don't oppose taking organs from the executed because of "antiquated religious nonsense". They oppose it because it gives the government a perverse incentive to execute more people.

        There's a million or so people waiting for donor organs in China right now. A thousand additional death sentences would cover less than 1%, and that's assuming every single one of them has multiple useable organs.

        On the scale the government of China is concerned about, that's a rounding error, not an incentive.

        And the reason the chinese prefer burrying their dead in one piece actually is religious superstition, some other comment laid out more details on that.

        By the way, in the future you might want to put the tiniest modicum of effort into understanding people's positions before launching into, "hurr hurr religious people are dumb and haven't thought this through."

        Actually, I have spent several years understandi

        • by khallow (566160)

          Actually, I have spent several years understanding religion

          Sure, you have. If you can't understand an obvious moral problem such as involuntary organ harvesting, then I doubt you understand religion, even if you ever did burn a few years trying.

          If I have the authority to kill you and harvest your extremely valuable organs, what keeps me from doing so? In an ethical society, we would have laws and punishments that keep me from doing so. In China, they don't have these and their government actually encourages this process.

          • by Tom (822)

            If you can't understand an obvious moral problem such as involuntary organ harvesting, then I doubt you understand religion

            If an ethical problem, not a religious one. If you think the two are the same, you need to listen to less religious propaganda. In fact, most religions are famous for changing their ethics around based on what this centuries moral trends say.

            If I have the authority to kill you and harvest your extremely valuable organs, what keeps me from doing so? In an ethical society, we would have laws and punishments that keep me from doing so. In China, they don't have these and their government actually encourages this process.

            Evidence and I'll be with you. I see the potential abuse - but I also remember that I'm on a forum where in a different context, people strongly claim that guns don't kill people and malicious software is necessary (and interesting).

    • Re:why ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by asparagus (29121) <koonce AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:33PM (#39466803) Homepage Journal

      Because this is China.

      Executable offensives include: political dissent, terrorism, drug dealing, child pornography, being of the wrong religous groups, the usual laundry list.

      Where it gets exciting is when they send doctors to determine your blood type to decide if you've committed an executable offense [weeklystandard.com].

      • by Tom (822)

        Good narrative, and we all love naratives, but it doesn't deliver many new facts. Most importantly, not what you are alleging.

        Since we can't make China a great place within a few days, how about accepting reality and then improving it, instead of wishing for some fancy lalaland?

        I think TFA is spot-on: The practical issues happen to be the deciding factor. Funny how nobody said that in a response to my "why" so far (but it has been said in other comments). It's simple, straightforward, truthful and answers t

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Because it creates an incentive for killing people? When you can get a death sentence for almost anything in China, and when thousands get executed there every year some might start to wonder if the strict laws are there because it's cheaper to sell the organs of criminals than to keep them in prison. There are also rumors of barbaric practices where organs are harvested from still living bodies because they are of better quality.

    • People who get the death sentence have a very serious debt to society.

      Assuming they deserved the death sentence in the first place. There are some pretty frivolous laws in this world that carry the death penalty, not to mention police corruption and wrongful convictions.

      I get what you're saying, but it's worth keeping in mind that not all convictions are deserved.

    • by poity (465672)

      All unsolicited advertisement is spam

      If it is wrong to advertise to someone without their solicitation or even permission, then should it not also be wrong to harvest that person's organs without their solicitation or even permission?

    • by ZankerH (1401751)

      People who get the death sentence have a very serious debt to society. Let's ignore for the moment whether or not you agree with what people in China get the death sentence for, or the death sentence in general. Even if you don't like it, you can not deny the reality.

      The reality is, the death penalty is plain WRONG, and making it desirable or profitable in any shape or form is unethical at best.

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      You were caught j-walking and the pretty princess prom queen needs a pair of kidneys due to a car accident where she swerved to miss a kitty cat. You are tried/convicted/sentenced to be executed and she gets your kidneys. Some overweight smoker gets your lungs and liver and the rest of you is dispensed as needed.

      If you think the US is moral enough to not get caught up in that mess you may be right but I don't want to try it. Look at every other country and see if it would not be driven to excess. I'm surpri

  • What percentage of organs are actually from convicted felons ?

    If the answer is "miniscule" then it makes sense to do whatever
    pisses people off the least.

    I, personally, am far more concerned about doctors declaring me dead
    when I am "not dead yet".

  • . . . so I'll just keep all the rest of them when I am dead, just out of spite, thanks.

    Are there any religious or cultural issues, that discourage folks in different countries from donating organs? Is there any ranking of organ donating cultures?

  • Dick Cheney's new heart has "Made In China" stamped on it. Just sayin'.. you know.. the timing of the two stories... just sayin'
  • by nbritton (823086) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @01:40PM (#39467309)

    Donald Trump, in I forget which TV show, estimated the value of a human body to be worth around $23 million. I for one am not going to give that away when I die, not when my family could benefit from it. Currently the hospitals don't even borther to cover funeral expenses after you give them your extremely valuable organs, which are likely worth more then the life insurance policy your making payments on. Why do we have a system like this?

    I think all you would need is some kind of modified durable power of attorney in place, prior to death, that transfers ownership of your cadaver to a beneficiary who can part you out to the highest bidders. I would imagine the cryonics industry would be able to capitalize on this, they have already proven the ability to reanimate individual organs.

  • In Western Australia it has been suggest that all organs are harvested unless you say otherwise. interesting points of view.

  • It's not a "donation", when they kill you and take it from you.

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