Huang Jiefu, head of the Organ Transplantation Committee in China, is pictured on July 28, 2006. Huang’s attempts to respond to controversy over an honor given by the University of Sydney revealed his past conduct violated the University of Sydney’s code of ethics, according to the organization Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. (Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images)
Recently, the man in charge of reforming China’s abusive organ transplantation system took part in two high-profile attempts to defend his record and reform efforts, but both attempts seemed to only make matters worse.
Huang Jiefu was the deputy minister of health of China, and is now the head of the Organ Transplantation Committee (OTC), a body set up to oversee what is being called a new system of transplantation, meant to move away from the reliance on executed prisoners (whether death row or the religious kind is another question).
In an attempt to clear his name over a recent controversy associated with an honorary professorship he received from the University of Sydney, Huang held a press conference in Beijing in mid-May. A Chinese official holding a private address for the foreign media is rare.
Huang is significant because he has been lauded by Western doctors and medical institutions for what they regard as his efforts to move China away from using executed prisoners as a source of transplant organs.
But during the press event, he admitted on the record to having himself removed and transplanted organs from executed prisoners—an act that would violate a number of international medical ethics codes, and certainly that of the University of Sydney, which gave him the honorary professorship. And he also defended the use of prisoners for their organs, despite the fact that this ethical violation was what drove the establishment of the new system he has been congratulated for.
It was already suspected, based on Chinese official press reports, that Huang had carried out transplants from executed prisoners. But the direct admission was surprising and harmful, according to Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), a medical advocacy group based in Washington that has argued against Huang’s award.
“Huang’s transplant practice conflicts with the university’s code of conduct,” DAFOH said, in a statement on its website referring to the controversy involving the University of Sydney. “The DAFOH website says “ABC News described Huang as saying the world needs to be understanding and give China a chance. The distorted call for ‘a chance’ is like a slap in the face of the tens of thousands of innocent lives who did not have a slightest chance and were killed for their organs.”
More recently, a Chinese propaganda website was.. (Read More Here):