Transplant Conference Held in China, International Organizations Stay Home

October 30, 2014 Updated: April 22, 2015

China’s Transplant Congress 2014 started on Wednesday, Oct. 29 and runs through Friday Oct. 31 in Hangzhou. The Congress is going forward without the support of international transplant organizations, and the location of Hangzhou is a reminder of why.

At the last China Transplant Conference, held last November in Hangzhou, Chinese officials, with officials from international organizations observing, signed the Hangzhou Resolution, which promised to phase out the use of executed prisoners as a source for organ transplants.

This promise was key to reforming the transplantation regime in China, which researchers say has relied heavily on organs from prisoners of conscience executed en masse expressly for the purpose. In the wake of the Hangzhou conference, an international transplant conference was planned to be held in China in June 2014.

Without explanation, that conference never took place. The reason the conference folded are not hard to understand.

The conditions for the conference—a serious effort to reform transplantation in China—had disappeared. In March, Huang Jiefu, the director of the China Organ Transplant Committee, the official body which is supposed to oversee and implement organ transplantation policies, said that China would not stop using executed prisoners as sources for organs.

With this about face, international willingness to take part in a transplant conference in China disappeared.

This year’s conference was originally scheduled to be held in Chongqing at the end of September. The Chinese Society of Organ Transplantation issued a notice saying the conference would be moved to Hangzhou, due to a “special reason.” So far, that special reason remains unknown.