China’s black market for human organs is endlessly lucrative due to the fact that nearly 1.5 million people require organ transplants every year but according to the Health Ministry, only ten thousand can get what they need. One only has to do the math even if it wasn’t a favored subject in school.
In 2007, China banned organ transplants from living donors (except for spouses, blood relatives and step or adopted family members). Despite this, it was not until last year that a national campaign to coordinate donations after death was launched.
A defendant from one trafficking trial testified last month that half a liver costs 45,000 yuan ($6,590), while an entire transplant including operation and recovery costs, runs about 150,000 yuan, (about $20,000). The penalty for acting as middleman between donors and buyers can run up to five years, although the final verdict remains to be seen.
“This crime could damage society and moral values,” claims the Procuratorial Daily.
“I believe I was helping people, not harming others. I saved the life of the person who received my liver. He was only in his 30s. I do not regret it,” says defendant, Liu Qiangsheng.
Human organ traffickers have helped to raise the percentage of transplants from living donors in China up to 40 percent in the last few years. This number is up from 15 percent in 2006. Despite this, two-thirds of all organs harvested for transplant in China come from executed criminals.
“Executed prisoners are definitely not a proper source for organ transplants,” said Vice Minister Huang Jiefu.
China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners and curb illegal trafficking by developing new sources for organ transplants. A voluntary donation scheme is in the works, but may prove very difficult to implement due to China’s cultural bias against removing organs after death.
While change is in the works, organ trafficking remains a dark and grisly aspect of black market operations.
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