Leaders from the Transplant Community Send Open Letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping

The Transplantation Society (TTS) posted an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping urging him to take personal action against ongoing corruption in the organ transplant system in China.

As recently as last November, top representatives of the international transplant community supported and endorsed the announced plans in China to phase out the unethical harvesting of prisoners organs and the development of an altruistic organ donation system in China. But after November, a clear direction of the announced changes was lacking. Taking prisoners organs despite repeated promises to find other alternatives through voluntary organ donation in China is a position that TTS says is unethical and corrupt.

It was already alarming that China’s former Vice Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu, previously defended the use of organs from executed prisoners after disclosing the practice and later announcing plans to phase it out.

Drafts of the TTS letter, once circulated, made the medical community aware of the gap in the expectations between doctors worldwide and China. This, the lack of transparency, and an apparent failure of the voluntary organ donation system in China make plausible the mounting evidence of forced organ harvesting that has now caught the attention of more and more doctors.

The letter states:

Thus, we ask the Chinese government for an immediate and sustained resolve, to monitor compliance by Chinese professionals in performing organ donation and transplantation in accordance with NHFPC and international standards. The fledgling national organ allocation computer system that has been developed must be authorized as the sole distributor of organs to ensure transparency and fairness. Otherwise, the perception will be that one corrupt system of organ donation in China has simply been replaced by another.”

“This letter is a reflection of the uncertain outlook in China. It asks for clear answers and puts an end to the deceptive promises from China as we know them from the past,” said Dr. Torsten Trey, executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. “Moreover, the letter is also a testimony of medical doctors who genuinely want to see an end to the unethical organ harvesting in China,” Trey said.

“First-hand reports from our Chinese colleagues and a number of investigations suggest that the practice of obtaining organs from prisoners in China involves notorious transactions between transplant surgeons and local judicial and penal officials,” the authors of the letter write.

The open letter is written by several international leaders intentionally, so to display a consensus resolve. It accentuates this disconnect.

“The Tianjin website continues to recruit international patients who are seeking organ transplants. … The underlying abuse by these medical professionals and widespread collusion for profit are unacceptable.”

However, the TTS letter omits to address the central concern that international investigators continue to report evidence of systematic forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China involving the military system. Corruption alone cannot explain the success of the transplant tourism industry in China today.