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Prisoner appeals for transplant approval

THE Ministry of Justice is conducting an urgent review over a prisoner's appeal to have a kidney transplanted to save his brother's life.

The Hubei Province Prison Administrative Bureau helped submit the appeal yesterday morning after learning about the story from the media, today's Changjiang Times reported.

Ma Qizheng, a native of Henan Province, is in the Xiongwangtai Prison in Hubei's Shayang County for theft.

His younger brother Ma Qichang, 32, was diagnosed in July 2007 as suffering from uremia, a disease causing kidney failure. Doctors said a kidney transplant would save his life.

Ma Qizheng is the only suitable donor after a test last October confirmed he was a perfect match for the transplant. The brothers' parents are too old.

Ma Qizheng has filed several requests to prison officers for approval for the transplant but all have been rejected.

Prison officers cited existing regulations governing organ transplants among prisoners.

The regulations, circulated in 2006, ruled that organ transplants from prisoners were not yet acceptable.

"We truly do feel sympathy for him, but we can't do anything illegal," said Zeng Xianbing, a Hubei prison administration official.

Zeng said the bureau will forward the ministry's reply to the brothers as soon as they receive it, though unnamed legal experts cited in the Changjiang Times report hinted there was little chance of it being approved.

The donor prisoner could have to receive further medical treatment after the transplant, and it was unclear who would cover the costs, Zeng said. And if the transplant operation failed, who would bear responsibility?

All these concerns led to the ministry's hesitation about allowing organ transplants from prisoners, he explained.

But some lawyers suggest the ministry might approve Ma's appeal.

The regulations only discouraged organ transplants rather than forbade them, argued Professor Qiao Xinsheng of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

Before the regulation took effect, a prisoner in north China's Hebei Province donated a kidney to his daughter who was suffering from uremia.

The Hebei Prison Administrative Bureau approved the donation by Li Fusheng, who was serving a sentence in Cangzhou City for fraud, for his 23-year-old daughter Chang Junhuan in 2006.


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