Obligations of the Medical Profession in Light of the Chinese Transplant Congress 2014

On October 29-31, 2014, the Chinese Transplant Congress will be held in Hangzhou. The congress in the discipline of transplant medicine stands in fundamental contrast to the medical profession and mission. China has violated ethical standards for more than 15 years by using forced organ harvesting from executed prisoners and prisoners of conscience as a routine method to procure organs for transplantation. Among the group of prisoners of conscience are Christians, Uighurs, Tibetans and mostly Falun Gong practitioners.

After the false optimism subsequent to the congress held last year, consolidated in the terms referred to as the Hangzhou Resolution, realisation and a verifiable progress towards cessation of organ procurement from prisoners in China has been a bitter disappointment to the medical community. Despite the efforts of various medical organizations, China has failed to provide evidence to the international community of a genuine will to change the practice. This is disheartening for us as doctors who campaign for such practice to stop, but above all it is a tragedy for the countless lives stolen in the increasing need to supply such organs for unethical transplant practice.

We would like to take this opportunity, on the first anniversary of the now defunct Hangzhou Resolution, to reaffirm that the principles of that accord should remain the basis of our engagement as organizations and societies with Chinese transplant professionals. The international community should encourage no professional engagement, in support of the Chinese Transplant Congress or other aspects of professional activity, until forced organ procurement from executed prisoners comes to an immediate halt. In this respect, each medical association and society has an important responsibility to actively champion this issue and be active in trying to persuade China to stop using organs from executed prisoners.

The struggle to change Chinese transplant practice remains an urgent and imperative task. We as medical professionals have the ethical obligation to bring this universally condemned illegal organ procurement practice to an immediate end and to refrain from supporting current Chinese transplantation activities until cessation of using organs from prisoners has occurred.

In the light of ethical standards as set forth by the World Medical Association, The Transplantation Society, World Health Organization, Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group and others, we would consider it unethical for any foreign transplant professional to attend this transplant congress in Hangzhou given the rampant and unrepentant transplant abuse in China, unless the person is going with the express and sole purpose of speaking out against it. We suggest to all medical associations to issue a respective advisory to its members.