Statement from the University of Sydney Medical School

29 April 2013

The University of Sydney Medical School condemns the retrieval of executed prisoners' organs for transplantation in China and endorses the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism that was signed in 2008.

It is our outright opposition to the retrieval of executed prisoners' organs for transplantation that has cemented our support for our Honorary Professor Huang Jiefu, who separate to his credentials as a transplantation surgeon has more importantly been a leading agent for change in China to its organ transplant system.

Huang Jiefu is recognised internationally for having made significant changes to the regulation of China's organ transplantation processes in an effort to curb the practice of organ retrieval from executed prisoners.

Huang was appointed an honorary professor in 2008 in recognition of his significant achievements in improving the Chinese health system and his ongoing involvement with the University of Sydney. His appointment was renewed in 2011 and he remains a valued contributor to the research and educational collaborations between the Medical School and our colleagues in China.

He has been an outspoken critic of organ retrieval from executed prisoners since 2005.

Huang is credited with seeking to eliminate China's reliance on organ retrieval from executed prisoners including by:

  • creating a law to ban the sales of organs in China
  • creating a law to ban the transplantation of organs to foreigners in China
  • closing down a large number of non-compliant transplantation hospitals (450 or more by many estimates)
  • publicly stating that executed prisoners are not an appropriate source of organs for transplantation and announcing that China would establish a national organ donation system, jointly run by the Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Health
  • introducing transplantation recipient registries to increase transparency in the system
  • promoting retrieval of donor organs from conventional deceased donors after declaration of circulatory death (he has overseen pilot clinical research programs, developed national policies and requested its progressive introduction into clinical practice in all transplant centres in China as an alternative to use of executed prisoners).

In February this year Huang Jiefu again publicly asserted that less reliance on executed prisoners would be necessary for reform of the organ transplantation system in China.

On 12 March the State Council of the People's Republic of China announced that the position of Vice-Minister of Health, held by Huang Jiefu, would be eliminated in the latest institutional restructuring plan. He has since been appointed as the Director of the Organ Transplantation Committee of the Chinese Government and remains influential in driving reform of organ transplantation in China and the international community.

The President of the Transplantation Society, which represents the entire international transplant community, has expressed the highest professional regard for Huang Jiefu. Professor Francis L Delmonico has described Huang as the foremost leader in China for progressive change in organ donation and transplantation.

The University of Sydney Medical School supports Huang's commitment to reform of the Chinese transplantation system and his continued association with the University as one of its honorary professors.

Professor Bruce Robinson

Dean of the University of Sydney Medical School

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