Skepticism and accusations about China's alleged massive harvesting of prisoners' organs have never died down despite the continuous efforts of the Chinese government to regulate organ donation and transplantation. Even when doctors from across the world hailed China's reforms and progress in the transplant system at the 2016 China International Organ Donation Conference in Beijing on Monday, persistent doubts can still be read between the lines of foreign reports about the first such meeting on the Chinese mainland.
The organ harvesting rumors were fabricated by the illegal cult Falun Gong, but the nonsense has been well received by some extreme Western forces keen to demonize China as evidence to attack China. The rumors have therefore been spread widely. Accusations of various types have come out from time to time.
China did use organs donated by prisoners, but things have changed. There is a clear timeline to review China's efforts. The country promulgated a regulation in 2007 to administrate the donation system and started pilot programs for organ donation in 2010. On the first day of 2015, China announced a ban on the use of organs from prisoners, which means since then all the organs transplanted are voluntary.
According to statistics, the mainland carried out 2,950 organ donations in the first three-quarters of this year out of the total 8,866 donations by the end of September, a year-on-year increase of 50 percent. China's organ donations have topped other Asian countries to become the third in the world.
This rapid growth of donations still falls behind the huge demand for organ transplants given China's vast population, which lays the ground for the absurd speculation about the illegal harvesting of organs in China. However, the numbers can tell. China performed around 8.5 percent of organ transplants around the world in 2015 and consumed about 8 percent of medications needed in transplant surgery. It's ridiculous to stick to the imagined picture regardless of the facts and reality.
It's undeniable that illegal organ harvesting and transplants can hardly be wiped out in such a large country as China, but these criminal acts will be strongly cracked down on. In a recent case, a Canadian patient received a kidney transplanted from an executed prisoner in China, but the people involved were severely punished.
China has still more to do to improve the transplant system and many challenges can be expected. In this process, what China needs most is international support rather than doubts and accusations.