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To the Editor:

The statement by G.M. Danovitch, M.E. Shapiro and J. Lavee that ‘The use of executed prisoners as a source of organ transplants in China must stop’ (1) cannot be disputed. However, the strategies they suggest to achieve this goal sound like a policeman approach that is unlikely to appeal to Chinese colleagues and politicians amenable to change. Another disturbing point is that the authors forget that Western democracies too, including the United States, used prisoners as ‘donors’ only a few decades ago, thus limiting their moral authority (2–4).

Finally, the authors do not question the legitimacy of the death penalty itself, which may also be regarded as ‘an unacceptable abrogation of human rights’. The worldwide abolition of capital punishment will be the only ‘absolutist approach’ to solve the problem. It follows that a dialogue policy with the Chinese authorities, coupled with campaigns to abolish executions in all countries, including the United States, may eventually prove more fruitful than embargo-like measures.

Disclosure

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  2. Disclosure
  3. References

The author of this manuscript has no conflicts of interest to disclose as described by the American Journal of Transplantation.

References

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  3. References
  • 1
    Danovitch GM, Shapiro ME, Lavee J. The use of executed prisoners as a source of organ transplants in China must stop. Am J Transplant 2011; 11: 426428.
  • 2
    Kuss R, Teinturier J, Milliez P. Quelques essais de greffe de rein chez l’homme. Mem Acad Chir 1951; 77: 755.
  • 3
    Dubost C, Oeconomos N, Nenna A, Milliez P. Résultat d’une tentative de greffe rénale. Bull Soc Med Hop Paris 1951; 67: 99.
  • 4
    Meredith JH. Organ procurement from the executed. Transplant Proc 1986; 18: 406407.