/ 1 November 2008

China punishes hospitals for illegal organ trade

China’s Health Ministry has penalised three hospitals for illegally selling human organs to foreigners, a local media report said on Saturday, citing a deputy health minister.

Huang Jiefu did not identify the hospitals or doctors involved in the illegal organ transplant cases or the penalties handed out, Caijing Magazine, an influential financial magazine, said.

Huang, who was addressing a national medical academic forum, warned that the licences of future offenders would be revoked, Caijing said.

Live organ transplants are allowed in China only among family members, but illegal organ vending is widely practised due to a shortage of organs, it said.

The penalties against the three hospitals were the first under China’s guidelines for organ transplants, the magazine quoted Huang as saying.

Official statistics show that about 1,5-million people need organ transplants annually, but only 10 000 organs are available, it said.

Huang did not disclose the number of Chinese hospitals permitted to provide organ transplant services, but said the ministry would not issue additional licences this year due to a lack of organs, the report added. — Reuters