A Winnipeg human rights lawyer is trying to stop an Alberta drug company from testing an anti-rejection drug for kidney transplants in China.

Lawyer David Matas has asked Edmonton-based Isotechnicka Pharma to stop the trials over fears of where the test organs are coming from.

Human rights groups have criticized China because they say organs often come from prisoners who have been executed, not from voluntary donors as in other countries.

"The system in China doesn't allow for tracing beyond a reasonable doubt of the source of organs," Matas said.

"We do know virtually everything comes from prisoners. There are a few other sources [but] it's not clear for any one transplant what the source is."

Company will test organs before trial

Robert Foster, CEO of Isotechnika, says he’s confident his company’s drug trials will not be using organs from prisoners.

"Quite simply we're not using deceased donors, what we'll do is we'll be using living related donors," Foster said.

He says they will be testing the drug on people who have received a kidney transplant from living relatives. The company will take tissue samples to make sure that the donors and the recipients are family.

"We will adhere not only to the higher standards, but we’re going to actually hopefully drive those standards," Foster said.

"What we’re hoping is that they’ll look to us and say ‘we need to do it the way Isotechnicka did it, because they did it the right way.’"

But Matas says that won’t ensure the source of the organs.

"The Chinese government has itself has said [that] for a lot of live relative donors, there's a lot of fake identity. People say or people doing the donations say that the donors are live relatives, but they produce fake ID."