Among Nature magazine’s “Ten people who mattered in science in 2019” is Professor Wendy Rogers of the Departments of Clinical Medicine and Philosophy at Macquarie University, Australia and Chair of the International Advisory Board for the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China.
Rogers’ activist work against the Chinese government’s campaign of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has had a significant global impact and helped in the development of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s guidelines for organ and tissue donation.
In her conversation with journalist Becky Brickwood from Health Europa Quarterly, Rogers stated, “The more I looked into it, the more I found that there was a lot of evidence that organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience does occur and the Chinese provided no evidence that would reassure you that things are happening ethically there.”
After finding errors in one academic paper that had published organ transplant data from China, Rogers formed a research team to conduct a thorough investigation into thousands of academic papers suspected to contain similar errors and/or potentially dishonest data reporting. Rogers’ team discovered hundreds of papers published between 2001 and 2017 reporting on over 85,000 transplants that misreported the source of organs procured for transplantation. Their findings, published in the BMJ Open, has since resulted in more than two dozen papers being retracted after authors either failed to respond to Rogers’ criticisms or were unable to prove that donors gave consent.
Rogers maintains that the Chinese surgeons who procure transplants from Falun Gong practitioners are most likely aware of who they are killing, but believe that their actions are justified. She points out that the Chinese government propaganda has established Falun Gong and other minority groups as enemies of the people, demonizing them in the eyes of society, therefore the surgeons are able to rationalize and consequently continue participating in acts of murder.
When asked by Brickwood if there was anything else Professor Rogers felt readers should know about forced organ harvesting in China, she replied, “If people actually look at that material then they can understand what’s actually happening, and they should know that it is not at all safe to go to China for a transplant because it is absolutely likely that the organ you get will come from someone [who has been] killed to give you that organ.”