Home / China / Prime 已作废 不再更新

Police thwart illegal kidney transplant gang

By Cang Wei in Nanjing and Cao Yin in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2012-05-08 07:59

A gang of 16 people has been arrested for running illegal kidney transplant operations in Changzhou, East China's Jiangsu province, the provincial public security bureau announced on Monday.

Police in Changzhou rescued 20 young men who were being held by the suspects. They also arrested four human organ transplant intermediaries.

Twelve kidney transplant operations had been conducted, one of which took place in Indonesia. One person was sent there, and his kidney was sold to a foreign recipient, said the provincial public security bureau.

The gang contacted potential kidney donors, most of whom were in financial trouble, through online chat rooms. The donors were asked to live together after taking physical examinations and were supervised by the suspects.

The suspects contacted recipients and illegal organ transplant clinics through the Internet.

However, local public security bureau refused to release more details.

Wang Xing, a Beijing-based lawyer from Hui Cheng Law Firm specializing in criminal cases, said that the Internet has provided a great deal of opportunity for human organ traders to commit crimes.

"The current punishment regulated by China's Criminal Law is not strict enough, and the country has no specific judicial interpretations to regulate crimes involving human organ trades, which is a big problem that needs to be solved urgently," said Wang.

According to the law, people involved in the illegal organ trade could face sentences of at least five years in prison.

In 2007, the Chinese government issued the first regulations on human organ transplants, banning organizations and individuals from trading human organs in any form.

Now organ transplants from living donors, except for spouses, blood relatives and in-laws or adopted family members, are banned in China.

According to the Ministry of Health, about 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only 10,000 transplants are conducted every year, less than 1 percent of the demand.

"China has too many patients who need kidney transplants, and this situation has contributed to the thriving underground organ market," said Shi Bingyi, a veteran organ transplant expert at the No 309 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army in Beijing.

"Reluctance by a majority of Chinese people to donate organs also makes the situation worse," Shi said.

"China's medical and legal systems provide little public information about how to donate, which may also lead to illegal organ trades," said Wang Hongjun, director of the public order research office at the Chinese People's Public Security University.

Illegal human organ trades are in the media spotlight from time to time.

In April, a teenager in Central China's Hunan province who sold his kidney to buy an iPhone and an iPad, drew national attention. Five people, including a surgeon, were charged with intentional injury.

In February, 16 people were charged with running illegal kidney transplant operations in Beijing's Haidian district. More than 50 people sold their kidneys to the gang. It was believed to be China's largest illegal underground transplant operation.

In October 2011, police in East China's Shandong province arrested 18 people and shut down two illegal organ transplant clinics.

Huo Feng, dean of the liver transplant center at the General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Command of the PLA, told China Daily that he was shocked by the news.

"Such crimes tarnish the industry's image and affect the ongoing effort to set up a national organ donation system," he said on Monday.

Recipients' health was at risk, he added, if operations failed or if patients got infections.

The organ trade's only goal was to make profit, so correct procedures would not be strictly followed, he said.

Moreover, health authorities did not recognize most hospitals and doctors involved in these types of crimes.

To correct such situations, he recommended more severe punishment for the criminals and full exposure of the medical workers and institutions involved.

To help combat the illegal trade, the Chinese government in 2010 piloted a voluntary donation system in 16 of the Chinese mainland's 31 provincial-level regions.

"The voluntary donation system has been promoted nationwide this year in the hope of easing the burden of organ transplant," said Shi.

Contact the writers at and

Zhang Yan and Shan Juan in Beijing and Song Wenwei in Nanjing contributed to this story.

Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349