Journals have retracted or flagged more than 40 papers from China that appear to have used organ transplants from executed prisoners

Wendy Rogers

Journals have retracted 30 papers, and added expressions of concern to 13 more, because the research likely involved organs from executed prisoners in China.

The issue surfaced as early as 2016, and two of the retractions occurred in 2017, but all of the other retractions, and all of the expressions of concern, happened after a February 2019 paper by Wendy Rogers of Macquarie University, in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues calling for the retraction of more than 400 papers

reporting research based on use of organs from executed prisoners, and an international summit to develop future policy for handling Chinese transplant research.

PLOS ONE has been responsible for 21 of the retractions, all in 2019.

Most recently, publisher Taylor & Francis slapped expressions of concern on 10 papers from journals including Biomarkers, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, and Xenobiotica. A typical notice:

The Editors and Publisher of Biomarkers wish to issue an Expression of Concern for the published article.

Yi Li, Mingli Zhu, Qiang Xia, Siyue Wang, Jiaqi Qian, Renhua Lu, Miaolin Che, Huili Dai, Qingwei Wu, Zhaohui Ni, Bengt Lindholm, Jonas Axelsson & Yucheng Yan, Urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and L-type fatty acid binding protein as diagnostic markers of early acute kidney injury after liver transplantation, Biomarkers, 17:4, 336-342, https://doi.org/10.3109/1354750X.2012.672458

Concerns have been raised that the study described in the article did not adhere to ethical guidelines as outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki and the Declaration of Istanbul and guidance from the World Health Organization and the World Medical Association regarding the source of transplanted human organs. Specifically, the British Medical Journal Open (BMJ Open) published an article highlighting many papers in which there is concern that transplanted organs were harvested from executed prisoners in China.

In response to these concerns we contacted the authors to clarify the source of the transplanted organs received by the patients described in their study. However, despite multiple attempts to contact the authors and their institutions, no response was received.

The Editors of Biomarkers would like to alert readers of this. We will provide an update if we receive any further information.

Biomarkers publishes research adhering to internationally accepted ethical standards and is committed to upholding the Declaration of Helsinki and Declaration of Istanbul. Taylor & Francis endorses the ethics guidelines described by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Medical Association (WMA).

All of the retractions and expressions of concern can be found in our database using “transplantation” as subject, and “China” as country.

Rogers told Medscape last year:

The evil genius of this is that it gets rid of troublesome dissidents and at the same time sources an unlimited supply of organs for transplant.

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