Discrepancies in China’s Organ Donation Program and Transplant Industry

After monitoring the publicly reported numbers of people who registered as organ donors in China’s organ donation program since 2015, several unusual observations were made.

In December 2015, on the last day of the year, exactly 25,000 donors were added to the program. This is rather strange as the number should reflect real people, not an estimate, and adding a figure with triple zeros in only one day appears rather suspicious.

A similar incident occurred in the last week of the following year, in December 2016. This time 88,830 people were added within a week. An official explanation claimed that it was based on the campaign of an online store. The discrepancy here lies in the fact that throughout the year 2016 the nationwide organ registrations were in comparison much lower than what this initiative claims to have collected within a few days.

We then calculated a ratio of registered organ donors and the number of donors the program actually yielded, and compared this ratio for China with other countries. This ratio does not intend to be exhaustive and all-inclusive, but it provides a general comparison between countries.

When comparing the output of actual deceased organ donors from the donor program in China, United States, and United Kingdom, we observed that, based on its official numbers in 2017, China would have yielded percentage-wise about 200 times more deceased organ donors from its small organ donor program than the much more veteran donor programs in the U.S. and U.K.

 Year 2017




Registered organ donors




Actual organ donors




Ratio of organ donors
(Actual deceased donors/registered donors)




The discrepancies that evolve from this comparison are complex:

  • If the numbers are correct, why is China so much more efficient than U.S. and U.K. in obtaining organ donors? Perhaps China’s numbers are not correct?
  • Given that the organ donor program in China went public in 2013, how is it that so many “voluntary” organ donors seem to pass away within 2-3 years after registration?
  • Is China’s organ donation program operating on a voluntary basis or are there any forms of coercion involved that violates the ethical principle of “altruistic organ donation”? Do financial incentives provided to family members whose relatives just passed away influence the yield of organ donors? Such a violation of the WHO Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation would also explain why such numbers are not seen in other countries that maintain an altruistic organ donation program. 
  • If we assume that the approx. ratio of 0.007% that is observed in the U.S. and U.K. would also apply to China, then we would expect that a donor program with 375,000 registered organ donors would yield only 26 deceased organ donors per year. This would generate the question where did the other 5,100 organ donors in China in 2017 come from?

In 2019, China provided a less suspicious set of donor numbers. It is reported to have had more than 900,000 registered organ donors, yielding about 5,818 deceased actual organ donors, resulting in a ratio of approx. 0.6%. When compared with the number of deceased donors in the U.S. and U.K., the 2019 ratio for China’s organ donor numbers would suggest that China yields percentage-wise about 80 times more actual deceased organ donors from its pool of registered organ donors than compared to deceased donors from the U.S. and U.K.

Even if we consider all actual donors, including both living and deceased, the result is still staggering. In 2019, the U.S. had 19,267 actual donors, deceased (11,870) and living (7,397), and 145 million registered donors, resulting in a ratio of approx. 0.013%. Though we don’t have China’s exact number of all actual donors, we would expect it to be greater than the number of deceased donors, whose ratio of actual deceased donors vs. registered donor pool is approx. 0.6%. That means China would yield percentage-wise at least 44 times more actual organ donors from its organ donation program than the U.S.

These initial observations were then solidified in 2019 when an academic forensic statistical analysis of China’s organ donation program came to the conclusion that the numbers presented in the program were “man-made” and manufactured. This provokes the question: has China deceived the international medical community about its organ procurement system? Is China’s organ donation program authentic or a whitewashed program to conceal the real source of organs, which is said to be prisoners of conscience? The China Tribunal concluded in 2019, that Falun Gong practitioners are the main source of organs in China’s forced organ harvesting practice.

The analysis of organ donor and transplant numbers in China yields unprecedented results. The numbers are implausible and reveal discrepancies. If we assumed China’s numbers of registered organ donors are correct, then this would result in the situation that the annual transplant numbers outpace the number of organ donors.

It is obvious beyond any doubt that China’s organ donation program and transplant industry have discrepancies that are not seen in other countries, neither in the U.S. nor in other countries that maintain a transparent transplant system that are based on voluntary, altruistic organ donations. Since the transplant discipline depends on organs procured from human beings, this observation raises the question: who are the people that are used as source for these organs? The observations and findings merit international attention and scrutiny.