Human Organ Supply: Report on Ethical Considerations and Breaches in Organ Harvesting Practices
Click HERE for the full report.
March 22, 2023: The New York City Bar Association has published a report on organ harvesting considerations, including forced organ harvesting in China and other ethical issues with organ donation. The report acknowledges the findings by Global Right Compliance and ETAC around the instances of forced organ harvesting in China.
“A shortage of human organs (strong demand) is at the root of many of the ethical dilemmas around organ supply for transplant. The medical community and those in need of organs want to address the discrepancy between supply and demand by increasing the supply, although some alternatives on the horizon might eventually substitute for human organs for transplant. Ethical violations in the organ transplant process fall along a sliding scale from ambiguous consent to donate post-death to forced organ harvesting from live victims. Nonconsensual and involuntary donation and organ trafficking fall along the continuum.”
The report further clarifies,
“Generally, organ harvesting from executed prisoners is seen as coercive and not voluntary, although Chinese law does allow it. That is, it violates global standards and ethical guidelines, and China has declared it is no longer doing so. Nonetheless … there is ample evidence China continues to engage in forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience.”
“An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 transplants took place from 2000 to 2014 during which time the primary victims were Falun Gong practitioners. According to Human Rights Watch, in addition to Falun Gong, Uyghurs in China have been or are at grave risk of being victims of forced organ harvesting due to evidence of blood and organ testing. A Uyghur tribunal later confirmed forced organ harvesting from Uyghurs.”
The report concludes,
“As a medical advancement, organ transplant has saved many lives and changed the landscape of bladder, kidney, lung, liver, and heart disease. But it comes with a human cost in exploitation and even killing. It is imperative to decrease demand for human organs both by improving public health and by discovering alternative treatments and cures for diseased, injured, or damaged organs. Concurrently, policies, guidelines, human rights due diligence, laws, and law enforcement, including the use of technology for investigation, should be used to eradicate organ trafficking, forced organ harvesting, and all exploitation associated with organ procurement. And, ultimately, alleviation of global poverty is a crucial part of any strategy to reduce exploitation in the organ transplant market.”
This paper accompanies the March 22, 2023 webinar “Do No Harm: Business and Human Rights in Transplantation Medicine,” hosted by the New York City Bar Association, and co-sponsored by Columbia University’s Masters of Bioethics Program, Global Rights Compliance, and the Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China. The webinar addresses human rights violations in organ harvesting.