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Science & Technology

Call for retraction of 400 scientific papers amid fears organs came from Chinese prisoners

Tuesday 05/February/2019 - 09:56 PM
Sada El Balad
The Guardian
A world-first study has called for the mass retraction of more than 400 scientific papers on organ transplantation، amid fears the organs were obtained unethically from Chinese prisoners.
The Australian-led study exposes a mass failure of English language medical journals to comply with international ethical standards in place to ensure organ donors provide consent for transplantation.
The study was published on Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ Open. Its author، the professor of clinical ethics Wendy Rogers، said journals، researchers and clinicians who used the research were complicit in “barbaric” methods of organ procurement.
Medical journal to retract paper after concerns organs came from executed prisoners
“There’s no real pressure from research leaders on China to be more transparent،” Rogers، from Macquarie University in Sydney، said. “Everyone seems to say، ‘It’s not our job’. The world’s silence on this barbaric issue must stop.”
A report published in 2016 found a large discrepancy between official transplant figures from the Chinese government and the number of transplants reported by hospitals. While the government says 10،000 transplants occur each year، hospital data shows between 60،000 to 100،000 organs are transplanted each year. The report provides evidence that this gap is being made up by executed prisoners of conscience.
In 2017 the European parliament passed a declaration condemning organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience، and called on Chinese officials to end it.
Rogers and her team obtained all research papers reporting on Chinese transplant recipients published in English-language medical journals between January 2000 and April 2017. The 445 studies they identified involved 85،477 transplants. But 99% of those studies failed to report whether organ donors had given consent for transplantation. The 19 studies which claimed no organs from executed prisoners were used took place prior to 2010، when there was no volunteer donor program in China.
It is the first time a study has tracked the progress of the transplant community in blocking unethical research.
In 2017 the prestigious medical journal Liver International was forced to retract a scientific paper by Chinese surgeons who examined the outcomes of 564 liver transplantations over four years. But experts pointed out that it was impossible for one hospital to have obtained so many useable livers given the small numbers of volunteer donors in China at the time، especially given most livers came from donors after cardiac death، or “donation after circulatory death (DCD) donors”. Livers from these patients are only viable for transplantation in about one third of cases، meaning the numbers of livers obtained in the study did not stack up with the number of deceased patients in China.

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