In a effort to prompt more free citizens to donate, China will phase out executed prisoner organ donation over the next five years, according to a top health official.
China, who executes far more prisoners than any other nation, apparently pressures the condemned to donate, according to civil rights groups. The Chinese government asserts that the prisoners volunteer, and that the reason for the change is because those convicted are less healthy than that of the general public.
Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu said Thursday that prisoner organs aren't ideal, because of high rates of bacterial and fungal infections, adding that "therefore, the long-term survival rates for people with transplanted organs in China are always below those of people in other countries."
Huang said that prisoner organ donation will be abolished within five years, and that China will rely on a national organ donation system that is in the works. Trial systems have already been implemented in 16 provinces.
While China refuses to put a number on how many convicts it executes each year, Amnesty International estimates the count to be in the thousands, which is far more than all other countries combined. The Dui Hua Foundation of San Francisco has estimated that China executed about 5,000 people in 2009.
China's shortage of organs for transplant has also facilitated a black market for dying patients wealthy enough to afford them. It has been reported that kidneys purchased from organ traffickers can run about $29,000.