By Nicole Fenghea
China suffers from a huge organ shortage and chances for its citizens to obtain a transplant are very low. For many years their organs were acquired from executed prisoners to help meet demands. However, after international condemnation, Beijing said that they ended that practice at the beginning of this year, although officials acknowledge that it will be difficult for them to comply with the law.
The government now states that it will only depend on public donations. They have established a national organ bank which is supposed to give organs to people who are the best match and need it most. However, many critics say that the system will be misused as those who have connections will be able to receive the needed organs before others on the list.
It is believed that the most difficult problem they have to face is the government convincing the public to donate. It is a Chinese belief that the body is sacred and should be buried with all organs in place, as a symbol of respect to ancestors. Because, of this the country’s donor rates are some of the lowest in the world at 0.6 donations per million people. The government estimates that there will be more than 12,000 transplants this year, which is a large increase in comparison to the number of operations conducted when prisoner’s organs were still being used.
Unfortunately, with about 300,000 people in need of organs, the vast demand has generated a flourishing black market. A young man who sold his kidney on the black market spoke to BBC and described the very dark and confidential world that the traffickers operate in. The sale is usually set up online, where the 21 year old was offered $7,000 for his kidney. After accepting the offer, he was taken to a hospital where he under went blood work. After that he went to a hotel where he waited for a number of weeks until the traffickers found a match.
One day a driver came to pick him up from the hotel and blindfolded him. They drove along a bumpy road for about half an hour and when they arrived to the destination and took his blind fold off he noticed that he was at a farmhouse. The setting was just like that of a surgical area within a hospital, even the doctors and nurses were wearing uniforms. The woman that was going to receive his kidney was also there, along with her family. The young man became scared, but he was then put asleep by the doctors. When he woke up he was in a different farmhouse, with his kidney gone. He said in the BBC article that “The buyer wanted life and I wanted money.”
It is sad to see so many people in such desperate situations with no better alternatives then to revert to the illegal black market for organs. There are also many other people who refuse to obtain an organ illegally, and live with the fear that they will die before they can even get a transplant.
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