China’s Coverup of the Source of Transplant Organs
Statistics from China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission shows that about 300,000 Chinese people need organ transplants every year. However, only about 10,000 receive one due to a shortage of organs and a failure of the state run organ donation system.
Chinese officials have stated that as early as 1984 organs have been taken from executed prisoners and that since 2005, almost 90% of organs used for all transplants have come from prisoners. This is considered an unethical, non-voluntary form of organ procurement as prisoners lack the conditions to make a free, voluntary and informed decision. For years Chinese health and military officials have announced to phase out the use of organs from executed prisoners.
In November 2013, medical directors from 38 out of the 165 transplant centers in China signed a declaration, the Hangzhou Resolution, vowing to stop using organs from executed prisoners. The resolution prohibits hospitals from using prisoner’s organs for transplants, putting the full responsibility on the centers’ medical directors. However, asking the directors to refrain from the use of prisoners’ organs is shifting responsibility from the government to the medical profession. It was the Chinese government that legalized this practice in 1984 with a regulation that began by legalizing the use of organs from executed prisoners for research purposes. The CCP is the single best entity to abolish it immediately – provided there is the sincere wish to end it.
The latest in a chain of attempts to appease the west and to buy time, the Hangzhou Resolution also outlines a bold plan for voluntary organ donation. We see a different picture when looking at recent interviews with Chinese officials.
In early March 2014, former China’s Vice Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu, announced that rather than ending the practice it would require yet another undertaking, saying, “The question is, ‘When can China solve the problem of the shortage of donor organs?’ —I wish we could end it tomorrow. But it requires a process.” He elaborated saying “Many things are beyond our control, therefore we cannot announce any time schedule” [for ending the organ harvesting from executed prisoners].
Huang was again quoted by China Daily, saying “We [China] will regulate the issue by including voluntary organ donations by executed prisoners in the nation’s public organ donation system.” The most important aspect of this decision is that the prisoners’ organs will be entered into a computerized system that includes legitimately donated organs as well. Without full transparency prisoners organs are then susceptible to laundering.
The unusually frank statement by Huang to continue the practice of organ harvesting is not a single incident. In April 2014, Wang Haibo, director of the China Organ Transplant Response System Research Center (COTRS) at the Ministry of Health, was interviewed in a radio program on German ARD. He stated that the Chinese government has no intention of announcing a schedule for weaning itself off the use of organs from executed prisoners.
The announcements from China about the timeline to end the unethical organ harvesting are contradictory. Regardless of such inconsistencies, there have been many promises to phase out the reliance on prisoner’s organs, while the recent statements by Huang Jiefu and Wang Haibo describe just the opposite.
The risk of abuse is highest when organs are entered into an anonymous computerized “donor” system like COTRS where they cannot be traced. The integration of prisoner’s organs into the system is a consequential next step to whitewashing forced organ harvesting. This lack of transparency is a prerequisite for the abusive practice to continue.
Despite compelling evidence and ongoing reports from victims the Chinese authorities have not acknowledged forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, such as the Falun Gong, Uyghurs, Tibetans, and House Christians.
The success of China’s transplant industry depends on a constantly replenished pool of organs. Then what might be the source? Numerous survivor reports about implausible medical exams and blood testing in Chinese labor camps which should be closely examined.
Chinese Labor Camps
Today with the failure of the voluntary public organ donation system, China remains dependent on taking organs from prisoners from within its massive and secretive Laogai labor camp system. Due to the limitations in getting reports from China, the true scope of internment of people for their spiritual belief and detainment of political dissidents remains unclear.
One of the striking factors that investigators frequently run into is that Falun Gong practitioners consistently report that medical exams and diagnostics takes place in Chinese labor camps.
It is a persistent finding that Falun Gong practitioners, upon being asked if they experienced medical exams or blood testing while being detained in the camps, respond affirmatively. Typical diagnostics include physical exams, including family medical history, ultra sound, x-rays, blood testing and urine testing.
Local military and labor camp authorities perform these exams unrequested and without medical necessity on prisoners who are also tortured in the context of their persecution. It is implausible, why a labor camp that exploits its workers with up to 17 hours of work daily, without a significant salary, and under dire living and health conditions, would spend the extra money for medical exams.
What is the purpose of investing large sums and resources in medical diagnostics in labor camps in China? Certainly not the health and benefit of the labor workers. How can this be a worthwhile investment? Forced Organ Harvesting with huge financial returns in the billions of yuan could be the answer. In November 2013, the German news journal Der Spiegel reported that a kidney transplant in China would yield $350,000.
Aside from Falun Gong practitioners, other apolitical groups like the minorities Uyghurs, Tibetans and House Christians are subject to forced organ harvesting in detainment. We understand the attention given to the Falun Gong case as a “pars pro totum”, and hope that by focusing on this case, the attention will contribute to resolve the other cases as well.
In this regard we would like to share the witness report of Lisa Zhang, an Australian whose mother has been detained in a Chinese labor camp.
Mrs. Zhang reported that her mother was detained in:
Beijing Tiantang He Women’s Forced Labor Camp;
12 Weiyong Road,
Tiantanghe, Daxing District, Beijing, China
Mrs. Zhang reported the following account told by her mother: Mother recalled that on January 22, 2013, that while detained she was transferred to the Beijing Tiantang He Women’s Forced Labor Camp. When she arrived her blood was taken once. Then, on February 18th, 2013, due to gynecologic problems she developed in the labor camp, she was transferred to the camp hospital. At the Li Kang Hospital her blood was then taken for the second time. In May 2013, blood was drawn a third time. She recalled that this time all the inmates, including 90% of the detained Falun Gong practitioners and 10% of real criminals, who were not Falun Gong, were pushed into a mobile medical vans with test equipment for taking X rays, blood tests and other examinations.