November 4, 2008

China Cracks Down on Illegal Transplants

Chinese authorities, cracking down on illegal organ transplants for foreigners, have cited three hospitals for doing the operations.

Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu said the hospitals in Beijing, Tianjin and Xinjiang provinces have been suspended from performing any transplant for a year, Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported.

China Daily reported any new violation would lead to cancellation of the licenses of the hospitals and their doctors.

Huang did not disclose the names of the three institutions but they are the first to be cited since regulations were issued in March of last year against the practice, called "organ transplant tourism." The new rules require that Chinese citizens get priority for transplants, the report said.

In an article in a recent issue of the The Lancet medical journal, Huang and two others said many foreigners have been coming to China for transplants because they are less expensive and quicker than in other developed countries.

Huang said there are 164 organizations authorized to perform organ transplants in China, down from more than 600 a year ago. He said there are no plans to increase the number as hospitals face a shortage of organ supplies.