Chinese Medical Association reaches Agreement with World Medical Association against Transplantation of Prisoners' Organs


The Chinese Medical Association has agreed that organs of prisoners and other individuals in custody must not be used for transplantation, except for members of their immediate family, it was reported at today's meeting of the World Medical Association annual General Assembly in Copenhagen.

In a letter to the WMA, the Vice President and Secretary General of the Chinese Medical Association, Dr Wu Mingjiang, said:

'I would like to inform you that after discussions in the Chinese Medical Association, a consensus has been reached, that is, the Chinese Medical Association agrees to the World Medical Association Statement on Human Organ Donation and Transplantation, in which it states that organs of prisoners and other individuals in custody must not be used for transplantation, except for members of their immediate family.

'The Chinese Medical Association will, through its influence, further promote the strengthening of management of human organ transplantation and prevent possible violations of the regulations made by the Chinese Government. We also hope to work more closely with the WMA and exchange information and views on the management of human organ transplantation'

Dr Edward Hill, chair of the WMA, said the announcement by the Chinese Medical Association was a very positive step forward.
'We shall now continue our dialogue with the Chinese Medical Association and include other national medical associations in a project to find best practice models for ethically acceptable organ procurement programmes. This would help not only China and its high demand for organs, but also other regions in the world that have the same problems of coping with a severe shortage of organs.'

The announcement by the Chinese Medical Association follows several years of discussions between the Association and the WMA following reports that executed prisoners were having their organs transplanted. A year ago at its annual General Assembly in South Africa, the WMA adopted a resolution stressing the importance of free and informed choice in organ donation, stating that prisoners and other individuals in custody were not in a position to give consent freely, and demanding that the Chinese Medical Association condemn any practice in violation of these ethical principles and basic human rights and ensure that Chinese doctors were not involved in the removal or transplantation of organs from executed prisoners. The resolution demanded that China immediately cease the practice of using prisoners as organ donors.

Earlier this year a WMA delegation travelled to Beijing to meet representatives from the Chinese Medical Association and members of the Chinese Government. The former chair of the WMA, Dr Yoram Blachar, who led the WMA delegation, said afterwards that although differences between the two sides remained, China was moving in the right direction. He was particularly encouraged by the new legislation in China prohibiting the trade in organs. The meeting agreed that talks should WMA policy on organ transplantation and consent.