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American Journal of Bioethics.

Transplant Tourism in China: A Tale of Two Transplants

The use of organs obtained from executed prisoners in China has recently been condemned by every major transplant organization. The government of the People’s Republic of China has also recently made it illegal to provide transplant organs from executed prisoners to foreigners transplant tourists. Nevertheless, the extreme shortage of transplant organs in the U.S. continues to make organ transplantation in China an appealing option for some patients with end-stage disease. Their choice of traveling to China for an organ leaves U.S. transplant programs with decisions about how to respond to the needs of patients who return after transplantation. By discussing two cases that raised this dilemma, we argue for upholding medicine’s commitments to traditional principles of beneficence and nonjudgmental regard in sorting out the policies that a transplant program should adopt. We also explain how position statements that aim for the high ground of moral purity fail to give appropriate weight to the needs and suffering of present and future patients in the U.S. and in China.

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Volume 10, Issue 2
February 2010