International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Issues Policy Regarding Transplant Abuse in China
Click HERE to read the full policy statement
The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) issued a policy regarding transplant ethics and transplant abuse in China. The policy begins by outlining the governing principles of ethical organ transplantation.
“Thoracic organ transplantation improves the length and quality of life of patients with severe heart or lung disease using a vital organ donated from a human being. It is both a medical and societal endeavor that is bound by ethical principles. Among these principles are autonomy and respect for persons, utility which includes beneficence and non-maleficence, and justice, which includes fair allocation, health equity, and legal responsibilities. Together, these principles provide a general framework for navigating the complex ethical issues that arise in thoracic organ transplantation.”
Along with covering the ethical principles of the donation of organs from deceased patients and live donors, including the sale of organs, the policy also specifically addresses obtaining organs for transplantation from the bodies of executed prisoners, whereby such practices contravene the principle of voluntary donations as condemned prisoners and their relatives cannot consent freely.
The policy addresses the implications to such practices seen in China.
“Given the body of evidence that the government of the People’s Republic of China stands alone in continuing to systematically support the procurement of organs or tissue from executed prisoners,(7,8,9,10) submissions related to transplantation and involving either organs or tissue from human donors in the People’s Republic of China will not be accepted by ISHLT for the purposes listed above. This policy, including whether other countries systematically engage in the use of organs or tissue from non-consenting human donors and should be subject to this restriction, will be reviewed on an annual basis pending independently obtained proof that these practices have ceased.
The ISHLT holds that there should be explicit policies, open to public scrutiny, governing all aspects of organ, and tissue donation and transplantation, including the management of waiting lists for organs to ensure fair and appropriate access to transplantation.”
References (see full statement for further details)
7 Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China. Final judgment and report. Available at: https://chinatribunal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ChinaTribunal_JUDGMENT_1stMarch_2020.pdf. Accessed July 17, 2022.
8 MP Robertson, RL Hinde, J. Lavee. Analysis of official deceased organ donation data casts doubt on the credibility of China’s organ transplant reform. BMC Med Ethics, 20 (2019), p. 79
9 RM Sade, AJ Carpenter, TA D’Amico, et al. Unethical studies on transplantation in cardiothoracic surgery journals. Ann Thorac Surg, 112 (2021), pp. 1746-1752
10 MP Robertson, J. Lavee. Execution by organ procurement: breaching the dead donor rule in China. Am J Transplant, 00 (2022), pp. 1-9