Study finds China organ data is 'too neat'
CHINESE authorities appear to be falsifying organ donation figures, Australian researchers say.
That raises concerns about whether the country's move away from forced organ harvesting from prisoners in favour of a truly voluntary donation scheme from dead people is actually happening.
The study by ANU doctorate student Matthew Robertson, statistician Raymond Hinde and heart surgeon Jacob Lavee found statistics provided by China on organ donations fit exactly within a basic mathematical equation of the kind studied by high school students.
"When you take a close look at the numbers of organs apparently collected they almost match this artificial equation point for point, year in, year out," Mr Robertson said on Friday, when the paper was published in journal BMC Medical Ethics.
"They're too neat to be true.
"It is difficult to imagine how this model could have been arrived at by mere chance, raising the possibility that it was intended to deceive."
The study also finds implausibly high ratios of transplants per donor, misclassification of non-voluntary donors as voluntary, and an unusual growth in the number of Chinese citizens registering as organ donors.
"China's much-heralded organ transplant reform program was supposed to be the culmination of over a decade of international pressure, where finally they were reforming and ceasing the use of organs from prisoners," Mr Robertson said.
The study's findings should prompt the world to take a closer look at China's organ donation system and rethink decisions to allow the country to be part of the World Health Organisation transplantation task force and participate in international medical conferences, he said.
"China's return to the fold was predicated on a revolution in organ sourcing practice, supported by the data we have forensically analysed," the paper states.
"Given that this data appears to have been falsified, international medical organisations may wish to reassess their stance."
However, the study does note there are some Chinese hospitals "clearly engaged in the lifesaving work of voluntary organ procurement, allocation, and transplantation".
But the country-wide revolution claimed by Chinese officials wasn't the same as modest reform in a few key hospitals, it says.