Human Rights Groups Speak Out at The Transplant Society Congress

COHRC Presents Startling New Evidence of Ongoing Unethical Organ Harvesting

The China Organ Harvest Research Center (COHRC) released their updated evidence last month at the 27th International Congress of The Transplantation Society (TTS) in Madrid, Spain.  The 341-page report, “Transplant Abuse in China Continues Despite Claims of Reform” demonstrates that forced live organ harvesting of Chinese prisoners of conscience is ongoing despite the claims of reform and change by the leaders of China’s transplant community.

In the report’s forward, medical ethicist Arthur Caplan from New York University’s School of Medicine wrote, “China, as this outstanding, thorough, and well-documented report shows, continues to permit abuses of human rights and the minimal ethical treatment of its citizens in permitting killing in order to obtain organs for transplant.”

Several key lines of evidence are presented in the report:

  1. The reported number of voluntary donors could not possible supply enough organs for the officially publicized number of transplant surgeries performed in China.
  2. Official statements claiming no foreigners receive transplants in China was wholly discredited by a documentary produced by investigative journalists from a major Korean television station. As of October 2017, foreigners were still flocking to Tianjin First Central Hospital in Tianjin, China with hundreds of hospital beds as well as hotel accommodations reserved specifically for foreign patients. Expedited on-demand surgeries were offered to those transplant tourists who would pay more.
  3. China has not enacted fundamental laws recognizing brain death or governing the sourcing, donation, procurement and allocation of organs used in transplantation surgeries. Agencies reportedly providing regulatory oversight of China’s organ procurement and allocation systems are nothing but empty shells. Numerous loopholes enable unethical organ sourcing. Unlike what is presented to the international transplant community, the majority of transplanted organs come from outside of the floundering, fledgling government system.
  4. Given low voluntary donations, the shrinking number of criminal executions and the paucity of regulatory oversight, the only possible source for the tens of thousands of organs transplanted into patients from around the world each year in China is a living organ donor pool made up of prisoners of conscience. China’s transplant industry began its exponential growth after the Chinese regime launched its campaign to eradicate the Falun Gong spiritual practice in 1999. For the past eighteen years, Falun Gong practitioners, the largest group of prisoners of conscience in China, have been illegally imprisoned, tortured and forced to undergo blood testing and medical exams.
  5. Since 2000, the Chinese government has repeatedly prioritized organ transplantation in its national strategy with significant investment made in transplant research and industrialization, expansion of hospital infrastructure, domestic anti-rejection pharmaceutical development and personnel training.

Grace Yin, author and lead researcher of the report said, “Our findings underscore the problem with taking the Chinese government’s claims of reform at face value. We hope it leads to a re-evaluation of how international institutions engage with Chinese transplant entities.”

Human rights attorney and long-time researcher of China’s organ transplant abuse, David Matas, said, “The new report disappointed me because it confirmed what I have seen—that China hasn’t changed. It increased [its] coverup.”

ETAC and WOIPFG Protest Chinese Surgeon Included in Roster of TTS Speakers

Representatives from the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) protested in writing to the organizers of The Transplant Society’s meeting regarding the inclusion of Chinese liver transplant surgeon Zheng Shusen among the roster of speakers due to his known unethical activities.

At the 2016 TTS conference in Hong Kong, then-chair of the TTS Scientific Program Committee, Jeremy Chapman, stated Zheng would be barred from ever presenting at a TTS conference again as Zheng violated TTS rules by including data of organs sourced from executed prisoners in his research presentation.

 A 2016 Liver International paper co-authored by Zheng Shusen and 16 other academics claimed that no organs used in their studies were taken from executed prisoners. When this claim was strongly disputed, Liver International retracted Zheng’s previously published paper and imposed a lifetime embargo prohibiting the publication of any papers from Zheng and his co-authors.

The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) released its detailed investigation into Zheng’s activities demonstrating that “Zheng Shusen is one of the principal doctors, who has participated in the live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China. He is also one of the main organizers of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China and this is closely related to his leadership position in an organization which has played a significant role in the persecution of Falun Gong.”

 ETAC’s Executive Director Susie Hughes wrote that by allowing Zheng to present at the 2018 TTS conference “they [TTS] are not only compromising the integrity of the organization and its reputation, they are failing to live up to their own ethical code of practice.” Ethicist Wendy Rogers, Chair of ETAC’s International Advisory Committee, pointed out that Zheng’s inclusion indicates “there is no penalty for the most unethical practice, thus no incentive to change, and also no justice for the victims of Dr. Zheng.”

Despite the above, the organizers of the 2018 TTS conference in Spain allowed Zheng Shusen to speak as scheduled.