A gunshot to the neck of the condemned at the prison entrance, while the doctors are waiting for the body in an ambulance to remove the heart, kidneys and liver once the death is certified. This is how 2 out of 3 organ transplants are done in China. After years of suspicion, Deputy Minister of Health Huang Jiefu announced in China Daily newspaper a new national organ donation that contrasts the black market, while respecting the rights of prisoners on death row.
In a country whose people are culturally rejecting the idea of being buried without having the body is intact, only 130 people in 7 years have authorized their organs to be used after their death. To bridge the gap between demand and supply, the government - that kills the largest number of prisoners in the world, 1718 in 2008 only, according to Amnesty International - is therefore used in the 65% of those sentenced to death. Officially, the prisoners should give their written consent, but the opaque Chinese legal system has left ample room for abuse. But these are not enough: about 1 million Chinese are in the queue lists for a transplant, but only 1% per year can get it.
In this context a flourishing black market began to rise. It also attracted many foreigners, the so-called "transplant tourists". Here it is a market not so obscure: Listings of organ traffickers are easily found on the Internet. Just go to the site daifumd.com (daifu in Chinese means doctor) to find the announcement of a 35 year-old who sells his kidney for 200,000 - 300,000 yuan, approx. €20,000 - €30,000. Not even the law that since 2007 does require that living donors are a spouse or a blood relative has stopped the illegal transplants: they are indeed increased from 15% of the total in 2006 to 49% in 2008. To circumvent the law, moreover, is enough to falsify documents or to buy the complicity of officials. While selling a body can bring in thousands of euros, it is increasingly difficult to find willing donors.