May 18, 2024

Organ traffickers on trial in China

Man brokered organs from living donors
An organ trafficking trial in Beijing has shed light on the country’s
grisly black market in body parts. On trial is Liu Qiangsheng, who faces up to five years’ prison for
working as a go-between for organ donors and recipients. Another man was tried
for similar offences last month.

China banned organ transplants from living donors in 2007, with the
exception of spouses, blood relatives and step or adopted family members.
However, it was not until last year that the country launched a national system
for coordinating organ donation after death. The system has not yet proved to be efficient. According to the
country’s Health Ministry, almost 1.5 million people in China need organ
transplants each year, but only around 10,000 are able to get one.

The two men on trial believe that they are being treated unfairly – that
they were merely helping the sick and poor. “I believe I was helping people, not harming others,” defendant Liu
Qiangsheng told the Procuratorial Daily. According to Liu, he started in the organ trafficking business in 2008,
selling half of his own liver in order to pay for medical treatment for his
father. A friend of the recipient was desperately in need of a kidney, and
asked Liu to find him another organ donor. Liu told the Procuratorial Daily, “I saved the life of the person who
received my liver. He was only in his 30s. I do not regret it.”

China Daily reported last year that transplants have increased due to middlemen
specialised in faking documents that allow organs to be donated between
strangers in the black market. The paper also states that the majority of organs
used for transplantation are harvested from executed criminals.~ Reuters May 19

Jared Yee
organ trafficking