Organ harvesting in China: does it constitute a human rights violation and if so, what measures can recipient countries of transplant tourism take to curtail the phenomenon?
Progress in medical research, better trained medical staff and more effective drugs have contributed to organ transplantations becoming a standard procedure worldwide. With an increasing number of successful organ transplantations taking place, related problems are occurring. The existing lack of potential donors - whether deceased or alive - led to a global scarcity of organs with the number of required organs exceeding the number of the ones that are available. As a result, patients suffering from severe organ failure are seeking alternative ways to obtain the organs they need. These alternatives can be found in China and transplant tourism is growing. China is the county that performs the second largest number of organ transplants per year. Yet it does not provide transparency for the source of said organs, or the exact number transplanted annually. Executed prisoners and prisoners of conscience are believed to be killed for the purpose of organ harvesting. It is argued that grave breaches of human rights are occurring in this context; as China denies these human rights violations, the international community must act. Can national legalization or prohibition of organ trade curtail transplant tourism? Certainly, the role of recipient countries is crucial to stop their citizens from purchasing an organ abroad. Nevertheless, the risks involved for donors and recipients are not to be underestimated.