(Well, that's one way to "keep costs down". The greenies should be pleased; it is "recycling", after all.)
China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners as the major source of organs for transplants.
According to the China Daily newspaper, executed prisoners currently provide two-thirds of all transplant organs.
The government is now launching a voluntary donation scheme, which ithopes will also curb the illegal trafficking in organs.
But analysts say cultural bias against removing organs after death will make a voluntary scheme hard to implement.
Thriving black market
About 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only about10,000 operations are performed annually, according to the healthministry.
The scarcity of available organs has led to a thrivingblack market in trafficked organs, and in an effort to stop this thegovernment passed a law in 2007 banning trafficking as well as thedonation of organs to unrelated recipients.
But in practice, illegal transplants - some from livingdonors - are still frequently reported by the media and the Ministry ofHealth.
Human rights groups have often criticised China for itslack of transparency over organ donation, but critics have focusedparticular concern on the use of body parts from executed prisoners.
In a rare admission of the extent to which this takesplace, China Daily - citing unnamed experts - said on Wednesday thatmore than 65% of organ donations come from death row prisoners.
China executes more people than any other country.Amnesty International said at least 1,718 people were given the deathpenalty in 2008.
The China Daily quoted Vice-Health Minister Huang Jiefuas saying that condemned prisoners were "definitely not a proper sourcefor organ transplants".
The new scheme is therefore designed to reduce thereliance on death row inmates, as well as regulating the industry bycombating the illegal trafficking of organs.
The system will be piloted in 10 provinces and cities,and a fund will be started to provide financial aid to donors'families.