History of Organ Transplantation in China


China performs its first human organ transplant.

The Chinese Communist Party Central Military Commission has documentation from 1962 to the present day that all death row and serious offenders can be treated according to the needs of national and socialist development and can be dealt with according to the “revolutionary protocol.”


Clinical organ transplantation begins in China.

The first recorded case of organ harvesting from a prisoner of conscience takes place in October 1978.


The Chinese government promulgates regulations that would allow the bodies and organs of deceased prisoners to be used under certain conditions.


Uyghur political prisoners begin to be targeted for their organs.


The number of transplants and transplant centers begins to grow exponentially.


The first “organs-only” physical examinations conducted on House Christians and Tibetans are reported.


In July, Deputy Minister of Health Huang Jiefu acknowledges for the first time that the majority of transplant organs came from death-row prisoners.


To “recertify and regulate” the market, the Ministry of Health starts issuing permits to transplant centers; therefore, hospitals without permits would no longer be allowed to continue conducting organ transplants after July 1, 2007.

Before 1999, there were 150 transplant institutions in mainland China. In 2007, more than 1,000 hospitals apply for permits from the Ministry of Health to continue performing transplants. Among them, 164 receive permits.

Since January 2007, Deputy Minister of Health Huang Jiefu has consistently declared that organs were sourced from executed prisoners.


In March, China begins a pilot organ donation program in Shanghai, Tianjin, Liaoning, Shandong, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Xiamen, Nanjing, Wuhan, and eventually in 19 provinces and cities.

2013 - August

A “Chinese organ distribution and sharing system” is made mandatory. At approved transplant centers, patients on the waiting list are required to enter into this national database, and donated organs were required to go through this centralized distribution system.

2013 - November

Huang Jiefu announces the “Hangzhou Resolution.” Among the 169 approved transplant hospitals, 38 sign the resolution, promising to discontinue the use of organs from death-row prisoners by June 2014.


In December 2014, Huang Jiefu announces that China will stop using organs from executed prisoners starting in January 2015.

In March, Huang Jiefu says, “We will regulate the issue by including voluntary organ donations by death-row prisoners in the nation’s public organ donation system…Once entered into our unified allocation system, they are counted as voluntary donations of citizens. The so-called death row organ donation doesn’t exist any longer.”


China announces that it has stopped using organs from executed prisoners.

However, new research shows that the harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience has not stopped.