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Medicine Government News

China Admits Use of Death-Row Organs 309

h.ross.perot writes "Like a page from Larry Niven's Known Space series, here is a real report of criminals' organs being harvested for 'profit.' From the article: 'China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners as the major source of organs for transplants. According to the China Daily newspaper, executed prisoners currently provide two-thirds of all transplant organs. The government is now launching a voluntary donation scheme, which it hopes will also curb the illegal trafficking in organs. But analysts say cultural bias against removing organs after death will make a voluntary scheme hard to implement.'"
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China Admits Use of Death-Row Organs

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  • A Waste? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Russianspi ( 1129469 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:10AM (#29212775)
    I think that it would be a waste NOT to use these organs. The prisoners will be executed either way, might as well make them contribute some good to society to offset whatever they were sentenced to death for. There is a possible conflict of interest, though, if the judges start getting paid off to sentence people to death...
  • Re:A Waste? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <oarigogirdor>> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:14AM (#29212795) Homepage
    If it's profitable to kill, more will be killed. Simple like that.
  • by SCVirus ( 774240 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:15AM (#29212805) Journal
    Who hardly notice? China's in the news for this quite often. I've heard of the story of Israel a few times (there is some quite compelling testimony, if no evidence). I have never seen anyone seem to care about either beyond news outlet in the wider world. Obviously killing innocents for organs, as Israel was accused of, is vastly different than harvesting the already-going-to-be-killed.
  • by El Lobo ( 994537 ) * on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:17AM (#29212811)
    How do you **know** that it's a total fabrication? You can never be sure with governments or even individuals that are part of the government. What your heart says to you is , unfortunately, often not the reality. I'm not saying the Israel is doing it. What I'm saying is that I won't be chocked is the accusations were true, but sure, they are innocent until proved guilty.

    On the other hand, when there is smoke...

  • Re:Don't worry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by varcher ( 156670 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:28AM (#29212875)

    At last a (former) man who knows his classics.

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:34AM (#29212891)

    Well, if it is profitable to incarcerate, more people will be incarcerated too, right?... welcome to america!

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:39AM (#29212925)

    In China, people are put on death row for disagreeing with the government, blogging about democracy, or protesting poor government inspections/building codes after situations like the earthquake a few years ago that killed a lot of children in a school.

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:58AM (#29213019)

    I think that it would be a waste NOT to use these organs. The prisoners will be executed either way, might as well make them contribute some good to society to offset whatever they were sentenced to death for.

    "Got an influential position? Money? Power? Need a transplant? Just slip us your bloodtype and other necessary data and we'll upgrade a prisoner of your choice to death row inmate."

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:03AM (#29213053)

    I can understand your position from a technical perspective. However, in my opinion, taking organs from people without consent is wicked. Even bodies of executed criminals should be treated with the same respect as any human remains. I feel it is a fundamental human value that applies even to the worst criminals (and remember, in China, an unfortunate political opinion can be sufficient to put you on the death row).

    If you believe that it is right to use organs from anyone deceased (executed or not), without consent or even against their expressed wishes, I have a bit more sympathy for your view. Perhaps you have the philosophical view that a dead body is simply biological waste, and anything useful that can be done with it is a good thing? I still don't agree, though.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwater.gmail@com> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:19AM (#29213149) Homepage

    [Reliable citation needed]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:30AM (#29213207)
    Some of us are in biology, and would gladly point out that evolution doesn't work that way. And if it did, this is slashdot you're talking about, you're part of the weak, AC.
  • Re:A Waste? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:49AM (#29213307) Homepage
    If there are judges sentencing innocent kids to jail time for kickbacks, then I don't think it's a stretch to assume it would happen with death row inmates and organs. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13judge.html?_r=2&hp [nytimes.com]
  • Words Fail Me. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jeko ( 179919 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:50AM (#29213311)

    I mean, "ghoul" comes to mind, but it's the only one that comes close.

    They are parting people out for profit. Literal chop-shops for human bodies. It's a proposition only the most extreme horror movies have touched. It's the walking definition of Capital-E Evil.

    You have to remember there have been three parts to the accusations. They just ADMITTED to the first one.

    1. That the Chinese were selling organs of condemned prisoners, which they've always denied until now, and
    2. That many of these people were condemned for their political views, and
    3. That many of these people were condemned for being a marketable genotype.

    Dear God. We have a government admittedly selling human organs for profit, the one thing that every medical ethicist in the world has always agreed would be the prima facie standard of "morally and ethically repugnant" and your response is "Waste not, want not"?!

    They are killing people and selling the meat on an open market. I don't care that they're only doing it to the "bad" people. All of the fantasy Halloween monsters are laughable in comparison. Even the Texas Chainsaw family could cry hunger, not greed, as a motive.

    Our beloved trading partners, who probably manufactured half the stuff in my house, are literally selling the human flesh and bone of the people they killed and butchered.

    We don't have the words to fit this crime. I've always had a problem with the idea of an Eternal Hell, but stuff like this makes a strong argument for it.


  • Re:A Waste? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @04:39AM (#29213559)

    Welcome to human nature.

    Why do you think those "reality shows" and afternoon "talk shows" are so popular? Because they show real life and because they give you a real impression of other people's lives, because people are actually genuinely interested how others are doing? Bullcrap. They're popular because they give people someone to point at and say "Gee, I'm not that good... but I'm still way better than them!". It makes people feel good because they can look down at someone and feel good about themselves because they're not as bad off as someone else. I have no job but at least I have fewer bottles lying around in my living room than that bum there. My son smokes and drinks, but at least he's not a deadbeat like that boy at Super Nanny.

    Aspiring to something bigger would require work. Looking down at someone else is much easier.

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @04:44AM (#29213599)

    In 2008, China is purported to have performed 1,718 out of the 2,390 reported executions in the entire world. 72% is a pretty significant chunk. Iran's #2 with 346 (14%).

    I would not want to condone state-sanctioned murder in China, Iran or anywhere else. However, in a discussion about the relative "restraint" ... cough ... if China vs Iran, of what possible relevance can the figure of percentage of world-wide executions be?

    A more meaningful metric would be something like number of executions per 100,000 citizens in each particular country.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @05:02AM (#29213727)

    Some of us find that keeping people who are genetically weak alive fundamentally wrong.

    And the rest of the people in your head disagree? Or abstain from the vote?

    Smartaleckism aside (sorry, but people using the pluralis majestatis when talking just for themselves really tempt me to reply with something fitting), why? You are aware that by your theory Stephen Hawking should have been dead for a few decades by now, yes? Think the world would be a richer place without him?

  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @06:49AM (#29214341)

    The only outcry I heard was Israel screaming "ANTI-SEMITISM!!" when the reports surfaced.

    Which, to be fair, it almost certainly was. There is no sign of any real evidence that support the reports.

    What is, to my mind, totally unreasonable was the Isreali government's stance of blaming the entire country for the behaviour of a single independent newspaper.

  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @07:01AM (#29214415)

    See for example an article in Jerusalem Post, Jul 23, 2007 (available on the web).

    That has to be one of the dumbest things I've seen online for quite a while.

    Why the hell didn't you LINK to that article? Are we just supposed to browse through every single article in that newspaper from that day in order to find that article? Take your word for it? This isn't a book where you can't include the article - link to the bloody thing!

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @07:27AM (#29214557)
    Minors have been executed in Texas within the last decade. Even GITMO had minors in there. We can't really play the comparison game here especially since we could always call up Myanmar or North Korea where we can only speculate. We also can not argue from a position of moral superiority without looking stupid.
    We can only really argue whether execution is right, wrong, or the usual justification of execution (or borrowing North Korean torture methods designed to prepare people for show trials) - sometimes.
    Now the organ issue I'm not so worried about since I've registered as an organ donor. The real worry would be if it becomes a new vector for corruption and people are getting killed to get their organs.
  • Re:A Waste? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TnkMkr ( 666446 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @07:59AM (#29214765)

    Not the whole American Government, just certain factions that need to keep people scared so they can justify the money they take/spend. It is really a pretty simple political formula and those who use it in America are certainly not the inventors or the only ones who use it.

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @08:20AM (#29214999) Journal
    Iran is -barely- the size of a single state in terms of people.

    Huh? The poster above used CIA figures to show Iran has over 65 million people. What state do you live in that has more than 65 million people? California has just over 35 million and it's the largest.

    For reference [wikipedia.org]. Using that chart, Iran has a population larger than the last 21 states combined.

    Not a single woman was executed,

    Again, huh? Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, 11 women have been executed in this country. In fact, the last woman to be executed was in 2005 in Texas. If you're counting only federal executions, two women have been executed: Ethel Rosenberg and Bonnie Brown Heady.

    For reference [infoplease.com] (state data).

    Other than your calculations for the percentage of executions, the rest of your comments are bupkis.
  • Re:A Waste? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @08:26AM (#29215057)

    You're working under the assumption that the verdict comes out of a "fair" trial, i.e. where the crime is the base for the verdict. You might notice the circular problem you're heading into: When he is outside the social taboo and norm for being sentenced to death, the reverse is true as well, sentencing him to death puts him outside of the social norms and thus everything's fair. So if we had some sort of "commission" that tells whether someone can be harvested or not, the result would always be positive because he is sentenced to death (else he wouldn't appear before the commission), thus social norms do not apply.

    How about a case that's constructed because some high party member's son needs a new set of kidneys and we found someone who has a fitting pair? He gets thrown into jail, we create some case and some crime he allegedly committed and then we sentence him to death.

    He's been sentenced to death, thus can be harvested as we see fit.


  • by Britz ( 170620 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @08:31AM (#29215093)

    I read a report by a Chinese doctor who fled the country and said some donors were still alive when they started removing the organs. The donors were killed by a shooting squad and some weren't hit properly. The doctors were ordered to remove the organs anyways ASAP.

  • Re:A Waste? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @08:32AM (#29215097)

    The whole WMD deal struck me as kinda odd. I mean, it was like the school bully having the new kid at his collar and threatening him to punch the living crap out of him if he didn't hand over his lunch money while the poor kid was yelling and begging because he doesn't have any, while some obnoxious 5th grader (i.e. Li'l Kim) was jumping around them yelling "Look at me, look at me, I have some, I have some!"

    Makes me guess it wasn't about the lunch money but because the new kid had braces or something.

  • by BlackThorne_DK ( 688564 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @08:54AM (#29215297)
    That probably wouldn't be a problem anyway. If you 'full body' is intact, so will the recipient of your organs body. Since he no longer need your organ, you would be able to have it back. It might take som divine swapping of organs before everything is straighned out, but since He is all-powerfull that shouldn't be too much of a problem :) Still, the right to donate organs should be entirely up to the donor. I do however see the point in an opt-out system as mentionended before.
  • by AdamWeeden ( 678591 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @09:07AM (#29215455) Homepage

    I would say that's a very minority Christian view. I'm a Christian AND a registered organ donor. In fact, here's a listing of various denominations of Christianity (and other religions) and their view of organ donation [organtransplants.org]. Granted I only skimmed the list, but I did not see one that opposed organ donation, and a number that highly recommend it as an act of Christian love.

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