Australian-trained former vice health minister, Huang Jiefu, has responded to criticisms from Australian surgeons who are calling for his honorary titles from the University of Sydney to be stripped. The drive to strip Huang of his titles stems from his involvement in China's organ harvesting program, which relies on executed prisoners to meet the demands for organ transplants. The controversial medical figure is regarded by some to be an organ transplant champion who restructured China's public donation system, and by others to be the leader of an unethical transplant program, taking organs from death-row inmates forced into organ donation.
Cultural taboo prevents many Chinese citizens from voluntarily donating their organs, and the forced donation from prisoners fills the gap between the need for organs and supply. This forced organ harvesting program is especially effective in filling this gap, since China executes as many people as the rest of the world combined. In his statement, Huang asserted that written consent is required from the prisoner as well as from the family. According to statistics, between 50-80 percent of all organ donations in China come from executed prisoners, depending on the organ. Yet Enver Tothi, a Uighur who fled to London after traumatizing experiences working as a surgeon in China during the 1990's, stated that he believes 95-99 percent of transplants come from executed criminals. He states that the transplant surgeons were instructed to wait outside a room or a van, until they heard a gunshot, and then to come in order to preform the organ harvesting. Sometimes, Tothi claims, the prisoner would have been intentionally shot non-fatally, and surgeons would be forced to take the organs from the still-living body.
Despite the unethical practices, Huang calls for "understanding" from the international community. He has asserted that progress is being made in phasing out the use of executed prisoners as the main source of organs for transplantation. Huang states that the government sees these people as on the "wrong side" and by offering their organs, they are repaying society for their wrongs.
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