by Shan Juan
BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhaunet) -- A death-row inmate in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, has volunteered to donate his organs after death on the condition that his life is spared, the Legal Daily reported on Tuesday.
Jiang Benhua, 22, filed an application for organ donation in late June, months after the Xi'an Intermediate People's Court in December sentenced him to death for rape and robbery, the report said.
Still awaiting a reply from the local authorities, Jiang said he is willing to donate his organs even if his sentence is not reduced.
The report has reignited a long-standing debate on the righteousness of harvesting organs from executed prisoners for life-saving transplants.
Given the largely unmet demand mainly due to a serious lack of organ donations, there is no reason to deny death-row prisoners the chance to donate their organs, said Li Ning, president of the Beijing Youan Hospital.
As of now, the country only allows living organ donations among family members.
About 1 million people on the mainland need transplants each year and only 1 percent of them find the organs they need, according to official statistics.
China remains the only country in the world that still depends on death-row prisoners as a major source of donated organs for transplants, Vice-Health Minister Huang Jiefu said earlier.
Only those who have signed a written consent form can donate after death, as stipulated in the rule issued by government departments like the health, social security, and justice ministries in 1984.
However, irregularities do sometimes occur, like harvesting the organ without previous consent from the dead or their families, insiders revealed.
"It's totally justified to use the organs willingly donated by executed prisoners, but we have to use them in accordance with the laws and rules," Li said.
But Jia Yu, a professor at the Northwest University of Politics and Law, deferred, saying that as the death-row inmate is in a position that could not guarantee a willingness to donate out of benevolence, the practice should be eliminated completely.