Organs from hundreds of executed prisoners were harvested by scientists for their use in scientific experiments, according to a new report.
A group of Australian doctors fighting to shut down the illegal and “barbaric” practice in China made the claim in the British Medical Journal.
Experts uncovered more than 400 rogue organ transplants carried out between 2000 and 2017, in the world-first study.
They believe scientists carrying out the experiments used hearts, lungs or livers taken from dead prisoners.
Doctors behind the transplants wrote about them in scientific papers which were later published to English language medical journals.
There are now calls for those papers to be scrapped or discredited due to the use of the organs.
Medical ethics expert Professor Wendy Rogers from Macquarie University in Sydney, told the Guardian, said: “There’s no real pressure from research leaders on China to be more transparent,” Professor Rogers, from Macquarie University in Sydney, told the Guardian.
“Everyone seems to say, ‘It’s not our job’. The world’s silence on this barbaric issue must stop.”
The Chinese government says10,000 transplants occur each year however hospital data shows this number is actually closer to 70,000.
Experts suspect prisoners of conscience are the main source of the nearly 60,000 illegal transplants that are carried out each year.
The new study looked at transplant research experiments carried out from January 2000 until April 2017.
They identified 445 studies involving 85,477 transplants.
A high 92.5% failed to report whether or not organs were sourced from executed prisoners.
Ninety-nine percent failed to report that organ donors gave consent for their parts to be removed.
“A large body of unethical research now exists, raising issues of complicity and moral hazard to the extent that the transplant community uses and benefits from the results of this research,” the researchers write in the study.
“We call for a retraction of this literature pending investigation of the individual papers.”
The study was published on Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ Open.