Media ReleaseFrom: New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA)
Despite assurances from Chinese officials that organs would not be taken from executed prisoners from January 1st 2015, critical appraisal of available data concludes that transplant organs in China are taken from executed prisoners of conscience with official sanction from the Communist Party in collusion with the health system, transplant professionals and hospitals on an industrial scale.
Given the strong likelihood that a small number of patients from New Zealand (and Australia) travel to China each year to receive an organ, the implications of China’s transplantation industry have ethical and legal ramifications for transplant patients and health professionals in New Zealand.
A number of ethical tensions arise for NZ health professionals if they suspect or know their patient is considering procuring an organ from China, or if their patient returns to NZ with a transplanted organ.
Transplant surgeons from China who intend to continue their training and practice at home, should not be permitted to further their transplant training in NZ.
It is recommended that professional medical bodies provide formal guidance for health professionals engaged with patients who are organ transplant candidates.
In this paper, I cast an ethical lens over the situation of New Zealand patients travelling to China for an organ transplant, given evidence that China continues to take organs from executed prisoners of conscience. I consider some of the challenges facing health professionals involved in providing medical care to such patients, and propose some recommendations. I hope that this paper may start an informed conversation about this complex issue.