Forced Live Organ Harvesting—Transplant Abuse by the Chinese Communist Party
by Huang Shiwei
1. The Case
In September 2003, a 35-year-old male hemodialysis patient went to China for a kidney transplant. He had already completed tissue matching and other preoperative evaluations in Taiwan, and was informed that there was a HLA 3 matching kidney available. He was on his way to the First People’s Hospital affiliated with the Shanghai Jiaotong University in China. However, upon a final cross-matching test, it was discovered that the reaction was positive and the kidney was unsuitable. In order to avoid hyperacute rejection (an event that occurs minutes after transplantation and can result in organ failure within hours), he was asked to wait for a new organ. In the next two weeks, three matching kidneys were found and brought to hospital accompanied with a tube for cross-matching test, but they all tested positive. The three kidneys were discarded. At that time, the patient had to return to Taiwan as he only had three weeks sick leave from work.
In March 2004, the patient had a long vacation and decided to go back to the Shanghai First People’s Hospital for kidney transplant. His doctor in Taiwan told him that another HLA 5 matching kidney was available. However, the cross-matching reaction was still positive again. The doctor in China advised him to undergo plasmapheresis (a process used to filter blood and remove harmful antibodies) while the doctor in Taiwan advised him to continue to wait. He waited for another three weeks. A fourth kidney finally showed a negative cross-match. He successfully underwent the transplant surgery. A week later, he began his rehabilitation at the ward for overseas Chinese at the People’s Liberation Army 85 Hospital. The entire medical and travel expenses he spent was about 28,000 US dollars. The patient said the doctor in China told him the kidney was secretly taken from an executed criminal. He also said that when he had become flustered during the wait, that same doctor had comforted him by showing him multiple sheets of (more than 20) consolidated donor information and telling him there were many highly suitable donors among the list so that all he needed to do was continue to wait. He further indicated that patients from Korea, Japan, and Malaysia as well as mainland China came there for organ transplantation.
2. The Broker Who Introduced the Patient to a Hospital in Guangdong Province for Kidney Transplant
Between 2000 and 2006, the Chinese organ market witnessed an excess supply over demand. It rarely took more than a week to find a match. The doctor in that hospital is solely responsible for performing transplant surgeries. The transplant surgeon only needs to “place the order” and someone delivers the requested organ, or a hospital worker takes an ice bucket to get the organ. Before 2006, a doctor only needed to pay a “higher authority” 600 US dollars (not including bribe money) to obtain an organ. The broker for these transplant procedures was made to believe that this higher authority was the court. A broker told the following story: One time, a hospital worker transported eight kidneys by air. Because of a snowstorm and subsequent flight delays, he arrived late at the hospital. Upon examination, the doctors determined that the kidneys were not qualified for transplantation. They ordered the replacements and informed the eight patients that they had to hold off for a few more days for a new batch of kidneys. The broker knew that HLA 3 matching is a minimal requirement. He had seen detailed information about the donors in a doctor’s computer. He thought that China has a repository supply of organs from executed prisoners, and that the time of execution was in line with the need of organ transplantations. All brokers know that only military doctors have access to the organs. Patients would go to military hospitals or the transplant departments in domestic hospitals run by military doctors to receive transplantation surgeries. Although many foreigners come for organ transplantations, transplant recipients are mainly Chinese. The cost for a kidney transplant is only about 8,000 U.S. dollars. In addition to low cost for high-quality organs, the hospital, as we confirmed, boasts short waiting periods, with transplantations having a high success rate. China is a country that lacks comprehensive medical insurance. When organ transplantation is cheaper than dialysis, Chinese prefer organ transplantation over dialysis due to the lower cost. With regard to livers: In China, liver transplantations are in high demand due to a high incidence of hepatitis B.
3. Hospitals in Mainland China
The Shenyang City International Transplant Network Support Center(1)was set up in the First Affiliated Hospital of the China Medical University in 2003 as an organ transplant website to attract foreigners. The hospital’s website reports that the Chinese government has made it possible to perform a large number of transplantation surgeries. The law jointly declared by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Supreme People’s Court of the People’sRepublic of China, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and the Public Ministry,(2) states that organ supply is supported by the Chinese government. This is unheard of in any other countries. The question and answer section of the website promises that the quality of the organs is guaranteed by the use of “living organs,” rather than organs procured from brain-dead patients or from patients whose hearts have already stopped beating:
Question: Are pancreas transplant organs from brain-dead patients?
Answer: Our organs do not come from brain-dead patients, because the condition of these organs may not be good.
Question: Even if the transplant is successful, the postoperative survival time is no more than two to three years, right?
Answer: This type of question has been asked a lot. The short survival time refers to Japan where they took kidneys from the brain dead donors. In China, we have kidneys from living donors. It’s completely different from Japanese hospitals and dialysis centers because they conduct kidney transplants from dead donors.
In addition, the hospital’s website clearly outlined the price for each organ:
- $62,000 U.S. dollars for kidney transplantation
- $98,000 to $130,000 U.S. dollars for liver transplantation
- $130,000 to $160,000 U.S. dollars for heart transplantation
- $150,000 to $170,000 U.S. dollars for lung transplantation
4. Questionable Source of Organs
With its ability to provide an endless supply of live organs, China has attracted patients from all over the world since 2000. Chinese transplant centers grew from 160 in 1999 to 600 in 2005. The number of transplants rose from 3,000 cases a year in 1998 to nearly 20,000 cases a year in 2005.(3) Patients from South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States have all flocked to China for organ transplants. However, foreigners only comprise a small portion of organ recipients while the vast majority is from China. Yet China lacks a substantial organ donation distribution system. It thus begs the question—where do these organs come from?
Prior to 2006, Taiwan’s main dispute over organ transplantation in China was not the source of organs, but the organ harvesting method. Although many Taiwanese doctors have managed to establish a good relationship with their counterparts in the mainland, doctors from China have never been willing to share information regarding their country’s process of organ harvesting with Taiwanese doctors. Chinese doctors indicate that the process of harvesting the organs is a prohibited domain for doctors from Taiwan; the former acknowledge that the organ removal process is very cruel. They openly disclose that the organs they harvest are not from donors who are brain dead or without a heartbeat, but from living donors. They report that most of these organs are removed after the donors are given an injection. What kind of injection do they give to these living donors? On the website, the hospital boasts better quality through living organs rather than brain dead organs. Obviously, this is not only a violation of the “dead donor rule,” but also inhumane. Coinciding with their claim, we noted that delayed graft function (a form of renal failure) indeed becomes very rare clinically, reflecting a better acceptance when organs from living donors are used.
In January 2013, a surgeon from Xinjiang Province, China, testified in front of the European Parliament.(4) He talked about his personal experience with the process of organ harvesting and the execution of the inmate. He said that the executioner would aim the bullet to the right chest of the inmate, wounding but not killing the individual. When the inmate would fall to the ground, the surgeon would then harvest his or her vital organs without anesthesia.
In 2005, former Deputy Health Minister, Huang Jiefu, declared that 95% of organs were from executed prisoners.(5) But, those who understand the Chinese judicial system and the organ allocation provisions(6) know that the death penalty provides two types of execution in China; one is immediate, the other allows a death sentence to be suspended for two years. For the former, the execution must be done within one week after the order is received, which makes it impossible that prisoners sentenced to death can contribute to a standing pool of an available organ supply. In addition, we found that the scheduled surgery for the majority of patients is often one to three weeks after a donor is found, and the date can even be adjusted.
Furthermore, from the medical point of view, death row inmates have a high incidence of drug abuse, smoking, alcoholism, and high prevalence of hepatitis, so it becomes hard to imagine that many good quality organs can be collected only from executed inmates. If death row inmates are not the major source of organs, from where do the majority of China’s organs originate? In 1999, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Jiang Zemin, announced the banning of Falun Gong and carried out his triple policy against Falun Gong practitioners to “defame their reputation, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically.” The persecution has been utterly brutal. Many have been illegally detained with no formal judicial trial, suffering torture, rape and other forms of maltreatment while incarcerated. Millions of Falun Gong practitioners have gone missing, with no one knowing their whereabouts.
5. Falun Gong Practitioners Become the Source of Organs
It was not until 2006, when two witnesses, Peter, a reporter, and Annie, the ex-wife of a Chinese medical doctor, came forward to allege that the CCP has set up concentration camps to secretly imprison Falun Gong practitioners and harvest their organs for profit.(7) We have to ask how China is capable of providing good quality organs in such large quantities? The answer becomes quite obvious and certain: Good quality organs come from Falun Gong practitioners. David Matas, an international human rights lawyer in Canada, and David Kilgour, the former member of the Parliament and Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) in Canada, provide more explicit testimonials to this fact in their investigative findings “Report into the Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China.”(8)
To this day, faced with the questions and skepticism of the international community, the CCP has still refused any independent and unbiased investigation. Although the CCP promised the international community to reform their organ transplantation system, including terminating the practice of using organs from death row inmates, China’s transplant environment remains in violation of basic international norms. The procedures by which it runs its transplant operations are not transparent and the organ source is untraceable. The CCP uses evasive and deceptive language to hide its crimes. Most recently they have revised their transplantation criteria and included death row inmates into their organ allocation system. As a result, death row inmates are now considered citizens who have the right to voluntarily donate their organs.(9) The CCP even planned to transport organs overseas in an attempt to get support from Asian countries.(10) If the CCP truly intends to reform, the government must stop organ harvesting from Falun Gong, and allow independent investigations into the source of each organ of the past 15 years. All perpetrators involved in live organ harvesting must be brought to justice.
The Chinese government’s program of harvesting organs without free, voluntary consent is an unprecedented evil on this planet. Sadly, it is happening during a time when so many nations around the world are taking human rights as a priority. We have witnessed periods of terrible persecution throughout history, and while these unfortunate events continue across the globe, we have never seen medical doctors systematically engaged in the murder of thousands of innocent lives.
The first time physicians were used on a large-scale to participate in a massacre was during World War II when the Nazi Regime recruited thousands of doctors to participate in the persecution of Jews and other vulnerable people. They conducted despicable experiments, which resulted in disfigurement, permanent disability or even death.(11) Such crimes brought shame to the entire medical profession and eroded public trust in doctors. During the Nuremberg trials, the trial of Nazi doctors was the first of all 12 trials for B class war criminals, indicating the enormous impact that the doctors’ involvement had played in these atrocious crimes and the effect their actions had on the global consciousness.
Today, live human organ harvesting in China is a tremendous disgrace to the medical profession and to the entire human race. Organ transplantation is a major medical breakthrough that has saved countless lives over the last century. The CCP, in committing murder for profit in the name of medicine, however, has dishonored the accomplishments of this most vital medical treatment.
Live human organ harvesting is an unimaginable evil in human history. Many simply hope that it is not true or that it is only the actions of a handful of doctors. Facing such brutal facts, many choose to remain silent, either because they find it hard to believe or are swayed by financial interest or reputation. When the evidence is fully exposed, how will we rewrite the history of medicine? How will we justify our silence and give an explanation to the next generation? Chinese people are enduring the largest persecution. If the international community chooses to keep silent, it is the same as siding with evil.
 Why was the Chinese web page in the Shenyang Transplant Center deleted; http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/6/4/6/n1279107.htm
 Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Supreme People’s Public Security Ministry of Civil Affairs Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, on the temporary provisions of using bodies of death row inmates or organs from cadavers, October 9, 1984 (84) Division IDRC word No. 447
 David Matas & David Kilgour’s investigation report on the allegations of the CCP’s organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in 2007, revised edition (in English) pp. 40-41 notes 41-45). January 31, 2007
 European Parliament hearing focusing on CCP Organ Harvesting; http://www.xinsheng.net/xs/articles/big5/2013/2/5/49177p.html
 Shen Zhengyan. Top official confessed private sale of organs from death row inmates (quoted from British “Times”). Apple Daily (Taiwan). December 4, 2005
 Evolution history of organ transplants from death row inmates in Mainland China: Phoenix Weekly | Cover Story | Zhong Jian | 9-24-2013; http://www.51fenghuang.com/fengmiangushi/2411.html
 Sujiatun witnesses exposing the CCP’s crime of harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners;
 Kilgour, David; David Matas. The First Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China. [27 April 2010].
 China to stop using organs from death row inmates on January 1, 2015; http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2014-12/04/c_127278077.htm
 Organ platform built between Taiwan and mainland of China. Huang Jiefu: Earliest time for Chinese organs to arrive Taiwan can be next year;
 Nuremberg “Doctors Trial”; http://www.epochweekly.com/b5/273/10687.htm