Newscast Media BEIJING—Due to the cultural belief Chinese hold that people who lose their organs in this life will have them replaced in the next life, the main source of harvesting organs is executed prisoners, according to Radio Deutsche Welle.
“The actual number of executions is a closely guarded state secret,” says John Kamm, the head of the US-based non-profit Dui Hua Foundation.
“However, in recent years to some extent the curtain has been raised somewhat by officials or scholars who have access to the real numbers and earlier this year we did get some indication as to the number of people executed in 2011 – approximately 4000.”
Organ harvesting is a very lucrative business because the organs can be sold on the black market in Asia. It can also lead to human trafficking.
“It’s a bit of a cultural taboo,” explains Kamm. “The Chinese traditionally believe that when they leave this world and enter the next they have to be in possession of all their organs. So the number of people who have been willing to donate organs is very small.”
Five years ago, the government ruled that organs from executed prisoners could only be given to family members. And recently it said that it would phase out the practice of using executed prisoners’ organs by 2015 completely.