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BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing health authorities have approved 13 city hospitals to carry out human organ transplants as part of efforts to rein in the illegal trade in organs, state media reported on Monday.
Regulations banning human organ trade in China took effect on May 1, but rights groups have accused local hospitals of turning to lucrative organ sales and transplants to raise funds, and say many of the organs come from executed prisoners.
The approved list included hospitals authorized to carry out heart, lung, liver and kidney transplants, Xinhua news agency said, citing the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.
"No other medical institutions are allowed to carry out human organ transplants without approval from local health authorities," it quoted a health bureau statement as saying.
"If they do, they will be punished according to the law," it said.
The report said Shanghai and several provinces, including Heilongjiang and Shandong, had also drawn up lists of approved hospitals as required by the Health Ministry.
About 600 hospitals nationwide had applied to continue to perform transplants but only an initial group of 160 hospitals would receive licenses under a Health Ministry order in April, Xinhua said.
China, where religious and cultural taboos have traditionally proved an obstacle to organ donations, faces a huge shortfall in organ supplies for transplant.
About 1.5 million people need transplants each year in China, but only 10,000 manage to find organs, Xinhua quoted the Health Ministry as saying.