Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Renal Systems from Penal Systems

Renal Systems from Penal Systems
Taking a tip from O.J. Simpson, the Deputy Health Minister of China has finally come out and confessed to what everybody already knew: Many of the organs Chinese doctors use in transplants come from executed prisoners. He also noted that a substantial number of recipients are foreigners willing to pay an arm and a leg for a kidney. While this illegal organ trade has long been an open secret, the Chinese government spent years denying that many spare parts came from the condemned. But now that China has announced it will be closely monitoring death penalty cases, it acknowledges that there is a problem with organ donation. Amnesty International estimated that at least 1,770 people were executed in China in 2005. Last year, Chinese doctors transplanted 8,102 kidneys, 3,741 livers and 80 hearts, and experts believe that well over 90 percent of these came from executed prisoners. Even with the ethically sketchy practices, only one percent of Chinese people who need transplants actually get them, and legal experts say the new oversight of death penalty cases will cut the number of executions by a third. It's about time we started growing livers on the backs of mice, no?

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