On 3 April Guangzhou City in Guangdong Province, China, announced some changes to their organ donation laws. These changes will allow people beyond the immediate family to give permission to harvest a deceased person’s organs.

This is expected to be bad news for Guangzhou’s paranoid population, who must now expand their sphere of people likely to murder them in their sleep well beyond their wife and kids to include co-workers and other members of their community.

According to the “Managing Guangzhou Donor Bodies” law, in the case where a person hasn’t given permission to donate their organs any direct relative may do so on their behalf. However, if the deceased person had signed off on organ donation beforehand, then not only direct family members, but friends, other close relatives, or members of the person’s company or community can give the go-ahead.

Considering that organ shortages are constant problems around the world, on the surface this seems like it could help a lot of people. Freeing up people’s ability to donate could save the lives of many who would otherwise die of organ failure. Making legal organ donations easier my also help to reduce the black market trade that has run rampant in countries like China.

However, critics of the new law disagree, saying that this will only open the bloody floodgates of the black market organ trade and further government-managed organ harvesting.

Civil rights lawyer Sui Muqing had this to say:

“This is horrible. It’s blatant murder robbery. The family decides the treatment of the body and the government shouldn’t interfere. For example, in the case of executions, there is no decision of how the body is treated by the family. There is already a precedent of making executions in order to obtain the organs.”

An Amnesty International report from 2012 mentions China’s use of organs from executed prisoners but also said the country was taking steps to reduce its reliance on convict organs. One of these steps was said to be the encouragement of legal volunteer organ donations.

While those like Sui Muqing worry this will empower the government’s prisoner organ extraction even more, others suspect it will have the opposite effect and embolden the practitioners of illegal organ trade instead. That being said, it doesn’t look like the organ black market is in need of any help, with an average of one organ sold per hour worldwide according to the World Health Organization.

Whatever the effects of this legislation will be, I’ll always remember Guangzhou as a wonderful place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to die there.

Source: YouTube – New Tang Dynasty Television, Toychan (Japanese), Business Insider, Amnesty International, The Guardian (English)