by Dhruv Tikekar
The Vatican defended its decision to invite China to the organ trafficking summit this month, following criticism from the international community.
The inclusion of Dr. Huang Jiefu, co-chairman of China’s organ donation system, was denounced by human rights groups, which cited the nation’s unethical, often non-consensual, practice of extracting organs from executed prisoners as evidence of its ineligibility. The decision, however, was backed by Argentine bishop and chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Science, Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who dissuaded all the parties from having their political agendas take center stage.
In response to a critical letter by 11 medical ethicists, Bishop Sorondo stated that the summit was designed to be an “academic exercise and not a reprise of contentious political assertions”. While the Chinese government declared in 2015 that it was no longer using organs from executed prisoners, the number of general donations from last year constitute a fraction of those needed to meet the nation’s demands, with as many as 300,000 in need of donations on a yearly basis, according to a New York Times report.
Ethicists continue to call into question the nature of China’s claim, especially in light of a journal article that was recently published in Liver International. The article, which was submitted by liver transplant specialist Dr. Zheng Shusen, was withdrawn following reports that the work might have possibly relied on research from executed prisoners.
In a statement about the summit, the academy wrote that it hoped that the meeting would be a platform for change that could “lay the groundwork for moral and appropriate solutions based on human dignity, freedom, justice and peace”.
Editor: Liya Fan