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Association Pledges Prisoners' Organ Transplant Restriction

Organs from prisoners will no longer be used for transplant except for members of their immediate family.

The Chinese Medical Association (CMA) made the promise at the annual General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA) in Copenhagen last Friday, the CMA said in a statement yesterday.

The CMA will strengthen management of human organ transplants to ensure the new regulation is implemented, said CMA Vice-President and Secretary General Wu Mingjiang.

Dr Edward Hill, chairman of the WMA, said the CMA's decision was a positive step forward and his organization would continue dialogue with China on organ procurement programs. The WMA has adopted a resolution stressing the importance of free and informed choice in organ donation. It considers prisoners and other individuals in custody not capable of giving consent freely.

Last year, the WMA demanded that the CMA ensure doctors were not involved in the removal or transplantation of organs from executed prisoners.

"The CMA's latest move reflects the Chinese medical community's willingness to observe international standards of moral practice in medical disciplines," Chen Zhonghua, deputy director of the CMA's organ transplantation sub-committee, told China Daily.

Chen said the WMA's donation standard concerning organ transplants from executed prisoners was stricter than China's national Regulations on Human Organ Transplants, which took effect on May 1.

The existing regulations state that all donations should have the approval of the donors, but stop short of specifying the requirement for executed prisoners.

"The regulations already make it difficult to get organs from executed prisoners," Chen said.

This year, the percentage of organs transplanted from executed prisoners has witnessed a significant drop, Chen said. Instead, live donations from relatives and donations from other dead citizens have increased.

(China Daily October 9, 2007)

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