China's State Council on Friday banned the sale of human organs used for transplants effective May 1. The new regulation prohibits individuals and organizations from trading organs, such as hearts, lungs, and kidneys, following allegations of involuntary donations and international criticism that human organs taken from executed prisoners were sold to foreigners. The regulation only bans the sale of organs; sales of human tissue, such as marrow, cornea and cells, are still permitted.
Last month, an anonymous senior Chinese Supreme Court official told the state Xinhua News Agency that China uses the same strict organ donation procedures when accepting organs from executed criminals as it does with any other organ donations, but doubt exists as to how the requirement for informed consent is enforced. Last March, the Chinese Ministry of Health issued a general ban on the sale of human organs that took effect on July 1, 2006. The Ministry also issued new regulations in August 2006 to counter unauthorized international trade in organs, including rules that would restrict the number of hospitals permitted to perform transplants.