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Iran: Prisoners on death row can sell their organs before execution

Published: July 8, 2019
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The Iranian government has issued a new law providing prisoners on death row the right to pre-sell their organs to buyers, on the condition that the prisoner agrees to it before the execution takes place.

As reported by the UK-based newspaper the Telegraph Under the new head of the Iranian judiciary, Ebrahim Raeesi, an article in the criminal justice laws has been added which states: “If a convict voluntarily offers his or her organ before or after execution and no medical obstacle is offered, then the judge can approve this in coordination with the ministry of justice and the coroners’ office.”

The law has been firmly opposed and condemned by Iran’s Association of Surgeons, which described the move as “extremely worrying, damaging to our profession and the prestige of Iran in the eyes of the civilised world.” Professor Ali Jafarian of the liver transplant unit at Tehran’s Khomeini hospital has also claimed that the law will not be followed though by any specialist surgeon in the country, as “it is immoral and against all the values of our profession.”

Professor Ali Jafarian of the liver transplant unit at Khomeini hospital in Tehran, who is also a member of the American Society of Transplantation, told the semi-official ISNA news agency that no specialist surgeon in Iran would be prepared to follow the law as “it is immoral and against all the values of our profession.”

“Anyone sentenced to death would not be in a right frame of mind to voluntarily offer their organs, unless they are forced to do so under immense pressure,” insisted Jafarian. “Members of our association of surgeon will never abide by this law.”

A huge market for organ transplants already exists in Iran due to the large number of patients awaiting kidney heart, and liver transplants within the country, and millions are allegedly spent on the market by patients from neighbouring Arab countries as the sale of organs is legal in Iran.

According to the head of Iran’s Organ Donations Society, Katayoun Najafizadeh, over 25,000 Iranian patients are currently waiting to receive an organ transplant, but only 926 organs were available to the country’s specialist hospitals last year. Such a shortage has resulted in the emergence of a black market in which many poor Iranians advertise the sale of one of their kidneys for just $250.

The only other country known to have used the organs of its executed convicts was China which officially outlawed the practice in 2015, though according to many recently surfacing reports continues to harvest the organs of its prisoners in its infamous “re-education” camps for the persecuted Uyghur Muslim minority.

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