I forgot to link to this, didn’t I? It appears that organ sales are booming in China, and the organs are being harvested from prisoners. Not that this is some great surprise, but that people are being executed on an as-needed basis is… disconcerting.
Of course, in the comments for the article, someone tries to argue that Buddhist perspectives on organ donation limit the number of people who will consent to donation, thus China has to have a thriving organ sales market. Problem is, the prisoner is dead, so they’re not getting the money from the sale, and the prisoner’s family isn’t, either. In fact, it’s being presented as a “gift to society” – a gift with a hefty pricetag for the person skipping their country’s donation list to move to the head of the Chinese class.
Anyhow! I take exception to the idea that Buddhist perspectives on organ donation limit the number of donations, unless it’s from a purely practical, China censoring Buddhist leaders perspective. As I said in the comment thread, although there is the typical sitting for the bardo, which requires that the body remain where it is for three days past signs of cessation of life (in order for the essence to leave the body, and not remain in a lingering state, a sort of ghost of the word – a literal getting over attachment to the body, if you will), over the last 20 years most of the high ranking folk in Buddhism have come out strongly in favour of organ donation – it is, after all, a painless way of gaining merit.
If you really want to talk from a Buddhist perspective, you do have to question whether or not someone in jail is being pressured into doing something they might not want to do, or be comfortable doing. Jail, and knowing you’re going to be killed – that’s a pretty coercive environment. While donation of organs is a marvelous karmic boon, it’s only good if it’s done voluntarily and with no anxiety.
The concern becomes the taking of an organ of someone who was coerced into donating, or who did not consent or voluntarily give their organs – this could be viewed as karmically negative, of contributing to harm of another person. Your need/desire to overcome your body/shell’s imperfections to attain a longer/healthier life causing the death of another person would be a very bad thing. Given the report and the questions raised by the BBC, I’d think Buddhists in China would be wary about accepting organ donation, not about donating themselves.