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China bites back in transplant trade scandal

Prisoners parts? Says Hu?

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A growing firestorm surrounds China's reported selling of organs harvested from prisoners it puts to death. Today China fired back at the widely reported statement by The British Transplantation Society criticising it for taking organs from its many executed prisoners without permission.

Speaking at a news conference Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang sniped: "I want to remind this organization not to forget that a few years ago this kind of thing happened in Britain." Qin did not detail what he meant by this.

The British Transplantation Society (BTS) chose the visit of Chinese president Hu to the US to issue a strong statement on the secretive trade.

They said organs are bought and sold in a racket that involves transplant centres, patients, the authorities and the judiciary responsible for the prisoners. Adding the doctors' voices to that of human rights groups, BTS Ethics Chairman Stephen Wigmore said: “BTS condemns unreservedly any activity that transgresses an individual's human rights or involves the coercion of an individual to become an organ donor.”

Chinese officials deny the allegations of coercion. They say organs from executed prisoners have sometimes been used, but only with prior permission and in a very few cases. In March Qin said: "It is a complete fabrication, a lie or slander to say that China forcibly takes organs from the people given the death penalty for the purpose of transplanting them.”

The BTS reckons an “the accumulating body of evidence” says otherwise.

Bush is being urged to put pressure on Chinese President Hu when they meet today in Washington. A subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee heard evidence about the transplant organ trade Wednesday.

Beijing has promised to outlaw the cash trade in organs from July. It says written consent will now always be required from donors.®

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