HONG KONG — An acrimonious debate over China’s use of prisoners’ organs for transplant — a practice Chinese officials say has ended — has flared anew as an international transplant conference gets underway in Hong Kong, with some doctors and ethicists saying the meeting should not be held in China given the controversy.
Chinese health officials say China stopped using organs from executed prisoners on Jan. 1, 2015, after decades of obtaining most of its organs from convicts. Officials say they are building a voluntary national donation system that does not include prisoners.
Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has an organ donation system separate from the mainland’s.
But in an article published on Wednesday in the American Journal of Transplantation, a day before the 26th International Congress of the Transplantation Society was to open in Hong Kong, doctors and members of a medical organization criticized the decision to hold the meeting in China as premature.
“It is not possible to verify the veracity of the announced changes and it thus remains premature to include China as an ethical partner in the international transplant community,” wrote the authors. “Until we have independent and objective evidence of a complete cessation of unethical organ procurement from prisoners, the medical community has a professional responsibility to maintain the academic embargo on Chinese transplant professionals.”