This morning, I happened across a really subtle page on Flickr with a screenshot promoting the idea of going to China for one's organ transplants on the basis that it is easier to get a transplant match and is cheaper than a transplant in the US. All the photos on the site from which the screen shot is taken are of caucasians, and the target market for these transplant services seems to be Americans. I was seaching on the tag "censorship" and at first I didn't get it. When I did, I nearly choked on my coffee.
Here's the screenshot:
Though the issue of where the organs come from is never really addressed on the pages of the Yeson site I read, there is the general implication that matches are not too hard to come by in China as compared to the US. In his blog, Dr. Yeson remarks:
Currently, more than 17,000 people in the United States are waiting for liver transplants. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), about 5,300 liver transplantations were performed in the United States in 2002.
Also, there is a discussion of using living donors.
The site never does explain why it might be easier in China to finding matching donors for Americans than it would be in the US. The general implication is that there is a far larger pool of available organs to draw upon. But the fellow on Flickr helps out with this link:
Majority of China's Transplants Come from Prisoner's Organs
Increasing numbers of patients with liver cirrhosis or renal failure from regions including South East Asia, North America, Europe and Australia are flying to China for organ transplants. China has become the world's center for organ trade and transplants. But, what China may not be revealing to the world, is that the main source for organ transplants come from executed convicts.
According to the U.S.-based China Information Center, due to higher survival rates of liver and kidney transplants, China's hospitals are experiencing a boom in this business. As such, recently, there have been moves to expand facilities and make liver treatment and transplant more accessible to patients.
Think about this the next time you hear a story about Yahoo getting someone in China arrested.
See also this document, Sale of Human Organs in China, from the website of the US State Dept.
(On the other hand, sometimes grim tales of organ transplants are not true.)