BEIJING — A top Chinese health official has denied that the country’s new organ transplant system allows organs to be harvested from executed prisoners, saying that earlier comments he made suggesting that a loophole allowed the practice to continue had been misconstrued.
The official, Dr. Huang Jiefu, said his statements that prisoners were also citizens and therefore should be allowed to donate organs under the new rules had been meant “philosophically,” and he denied that the government was allowing it in practice.
“I never said that,” Dr. Huang said in an interview here last week. “It is a lie. It distorts my words. The context, the words are from a philosophical level.”
“As a doctor, we cannot reject the kindness and the conscience of the prisoners,” he added. “However, on a practical level, we cannot do that, to put them into the civilian donation.”
Dr. Huang’s earlier comments, reported in the official Chinese news media and cited in The New York Times, drew outrage from medical ethicists and human rights advocates, who have long criticized China’s practice of harvesting organs from death row inmates.
They said the comments showed that China never really abandoned the policy, as Mr. Huang had promised it would last December, but instead had simply reclassified prisoners as citizens and continued to take their organs.
Source: The New York Times, Didi Kirsten Tatlow, November 25, 2015