Sun, Oct 29, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Lu suggests agency to prevent trade in organ transplants

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday proposed setting up a commission to address the increasing problem of Taiwanese receiving organ transplants in China.

The Presidential Office yesterday said that Lu made the proposal after chairing a meeting on Friday. The meeting was called to discuss human rights issues relating to the alleged harvest of live organs in China.

Participants at the meeting included officials from the Mainland Affairs Council, the Department of Health, the Ministry of Justice and members of the now disbanded Human Rights Advisory Commission under the Presidential Office.

Lu told the closed-door meeting that both she and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) were gravely concerned about the disclosure by a former Canadian Cabinet member and a human rights lawyer that China engages in large-scale organ harvests from unwilling inmates, mostly Falun Gong practitioners.

Lu, who served as the convener of the Human Rights Advisory Commission, said that although the commission has been disbanded, the president has authorized her to continue pursuing human rights related issues.

While condemning China for violating the human rights of prison inmates, Lu said it was equally important to prevent Taiwanese from going to China to receive illegally obtained organs.

Lu said that statistics show that only 18,500 organ transplant surgeries were performed in China between 1994 and 1999, but the figure jumped to 60,000 between 2000 and last year.

The figures further revealed that there were only 22 liver transplant centers in China in 1999, but this mushroomed to 500 last year. Liver transplant surgeries also surged from 135 to 4,000 during the same period. In addition, kidney transplant surgeries soared from 3,500 in 1999 to 10,000 last year.

Lu said that the dramatic increase in organ plants in China was suspicious and warranted concern.

The problem involved three separate but related issues -- human rights, health and political issues, she said.

Lu proposed a three-pronged approach to tackling the problem: education, investigation and legislation.

First, the administration must denounce China's violation of human rights and educate patients and their families about the gravity of the issue.

Second, relevant government agencies must launch an investigation to discover whether any local medical personnel or agencies are involved.

Finally, the administration must study the possibility of amending existing laws or enacting new legislation, the vice president said.

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