China is investigating its organ transplant hospitals following reports that some are carrying out illegal operations for foreigners willing to pay much higher prices, state press said Thursday.
A team from the health ministry and the National Organ Transplantation Committee was in the process of inspecting the 164 medical institutions qualified to carry out organ transplants, the China Daily reported.
The ministry had already named 16 hospitals it said failed to comply with transplant regulations and would revoke the licenses of institutions that failed to pass the inspection, it said.
Some hospitals have illegally sold organs to foreign “transplant tourists” to increase their profits, with three penalized last year, the paper said.
The health ministry launched an investigation in February after Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported that 17 Japanese tourists spent about 595,000 yuan (US$87,000) each for liver or kidney transplants at a hospital in Guangzhou, the daily said.
Such operations usually cost about 100,000 yuan.
China passed regulations in 2007 to ban organ trafficking and establish a national organ donor system.
Official estimates indicate that around 2 million Chinese need transplants each year, but only 20,000 operations are carried out because of a shortage of donors, the paper said.
One unnamed surgeon said his hospital performed transplants on foreigners willing to pay.
“The hospital can fake their identities to fool the authorities,” he said.
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