In this photo taken on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 28-year-old Fang Hui shows off the scar from a living donor organ transplant operation where she received a portion of her sister's liver, at a hospital in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province.
China has vowed to stop harvesting organs from executed prisoners for transplants beginning Jan. 1, 2015, the head of the country’s organ donation committee announced.
Human rights groups praised the decision to end the controversial program, which is the country's main source of organs for transplant surgeries. The Chinese government only admitted to harvesting organs from executed prisoners in 2009.
The country first announced plans to end organ harvesting by November of last year, and while this did not eventuate, the government has been slowly phasing out the controversial practice. The head of the China Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, Huang Jiefu, said 38 main organ transplant centers have already stopped the practice.
Organs are in high demand in China, where the vast majority of people do not voluntarily choose to donate, largely due to the cultural beliefs that people should retain their body parts even after death.
"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," Huang said a seminar on Wednesday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 65% of transplanted organs in China come from deceased donors, 90% of whom were executed prisoners. Huang said that of the 300,000 patients who need transplants each year in China, only 10,000 receive them. Some say the new policy will widen this gap, but Huang said voluntary donors are on the rise.
"I believe the situation for organ donation will get better and better," Huang said.
Tags: CHINA, HUMAN RIGHTS, ORGAN DONATION, US & World, WORLD