International Transplantation Society members said Wednesday they hope their call for a ban on the trade in human organs may help stem a global shortage of donors, despite soaring numbers of people seeking organ transplants.
The day before, at its 15th congress, held in the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto, the transplanters society called on each country to clearly define the legal definition of brain death."We must find ways to permeate the correct information to the public so that people will be willing to donate their organs, so that we can make real progess in the field of transplantation," said Professor Kazuo Ota, chairman of the congress.
He said more than 100,000 Asians, as well as 50,000 people in the United States and 40,000 people in Western Europe, are awaiting organ transplants - and the number is rising.
"Political, cultural issues, reports of illegal organ and tissue trafficking and concerns about the validity of brain death tests are all contributing to a growing shortage of donors throughout the world," Ota said.
The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch/Asia group released a scathing report to coincide with the congress, condemning the Chinese practice of using the organs of executed prisoners as a principle source of transplant organ supplies.
"Transplant doctors involved in the organ trade who help remove organs from executed prisoners will become increasingly isolated by the world medical community, under new rules agreed to by the society," said society president Sir Roy Calne, a British surgeon from Cambridge University.
The society rejected the practice of organ trafficking, and members were advised to avoid getting involved in obtaining or transplanting organs from executed crim-i-nals. It urged all countries to enact legislation banning all commerical trafficking in tissues and organs.