China Reconsiders Fairness of Transplant Tourism

The ethical dilemma discussed in the article can be as follows: On one hand, organ transplant operations in China become “transplant tourism” because only wealthy foreigners can afford to get organ transplant in China where there are not enough organs parts for Chinese citizens, or they cannot afford to pay such operations, as health insurance doesn’t pay for them.

On the other hand, China’s medical sector is in unstable condition, and foreigners pay fortune to get organ transplant, as a result many doctors and others involved in the transplant industry cannot refuse to do it in order to meet performance goals that can only be attained by acting in unethical manners In this aspect, the article is relevant about ethical issues surrounding the practice of organ transplant in China: 1-Human Rights 2-Corruption 3-Moral Obligations 1-Human Rights: It’s not fair that wealthy foreigners get organ transplant when not enough are available for Chinese citizens.

Moreover, Human Rights oppose the practice of harvesting organs from prisoners condemned to death, so the WHO proposed that countries establish common practices on organ transplant from prisoners. Following to Kantian approaches, those prisoners are like other human beings; they have dignity and need to be respected as well. However, for others, ethical concerns are not priority because organ transplant can save patient’s life. The director general of Medikt, Israeli Co. that help patient to navigate foreign transplant hospitals said “In life, you don’t get a second chance”.

He is following utilitarian approaches to ethics, that an action is judged to be desirable if it leads to favorable consequences. But he does not consider justice, so the minority will always be at a disadvantage. 2-Corruption: In some cases, hospitals give the priority to rich patients, the act that leads in turn to high failure rates for the operations. Dozens of Israeli patients died after transplants. The moral courage of few Chinese doctors leaded them to criticize the practices of organ transplant based on the patient’s ability to pay.

They say that such kind of practice favors foreigners and reduces the organs availability for Chinese patients. Dr. Chen Zhonghua, Cambridge educated transplant surgeon, said that the money that foreign patients are bringing to China is further complicating an already corrupt system, that’s why Dr. Chen is encouraging patients to use living relatives as organ donors. 3-Moral obligations: Some Rabbis in Israel oppose all organ transplants because of religious objections to donation.

But it was estimated that 33% of the heart transplant performed on Israelis each year are done in China and 200 Israeli patients received kidney transplant in China during the past 5 years. Also, many Chinese are uncomfortable with the organ donation of deceased persons, because of traditional taboos against distributing their bodies. Moreover, Chinese officials said that harvesting prisoner’s organs is legal and ethical. The Chinese Vice-Minister said: “If some criminals become aware that they have done a disservice to society and want to atone by donating their organs after death, this is something that should be encouraged, not opposed”.

However, again following to Kantian approaches, the prisoners’ opinions should be taken in consideration. As a result of all above, Israeli legislature proposed new transplant law that would forbid health insurers to fund transplants in nations where organs are collected in an unethical way. China’s Ministry of Health established temporary ethical rules for organ transplant processes. 1-Limiting organs transplant to a small number of reputable hospitals that can be more easily monitored. 2-Chinese hospitals declare death only when the heart stops beating, a point at which organs become useless. This is a barrier to increase donations; lso, this is indication that China will continue taking organs from executed prisoners, if they agree to do so. 3-Establishing new code that gives the Chinese citizens the priority for all organs transplants. Second priority is given to foreigners who live and work in China. The code bans transplant tourism outright. 4-China’s Health Ministry is now working to gain support from other agencies for permanent rules governing organ transplant in order to implement decision-making processes that require other agencies to consider the ethical dimension of organ transplant procedures and to create a fair, open and just system.

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