Leading Forensic Nurse Increases Awareness of Organ Harvesting Crimes

University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Associate Professor and forensic nurse Dr. Kathleen Thimsen was interviewed on the topic of forced organ harvesting in China by Joe Gaccione of the Vital Views podcast of the UNLV School of Nursing.

Dr. Thimsen said the most pronounced and well publicized example of forced organ harvesting occurs in China. Under direction of then-head of the Chinese Communist Party Jiang Zemin, the Chinese government launched a nationwide infrastructure of murder for organs and “actually makes quite a bit of money from it.”

She believes that “awareness of the practice is the first step” in helping to end this crime and that the Academy of Forensic Nursing is really trying to advance this. She added that the “second [step] is to educate our patients and our colleagues who are medical practitioners here in the United States” about forced organ harvesting from living human beings.

Dr. Thimsen detailed the horrors of what is actually happening in operating rooms across China. “There are two types of sedation that are given to patients undergoing any kind of surgical procedure. One is to paralyze the body and second is to give them a medication… [s]o they’re not aware of what’s happening. In the case of these victims of forced organ harvesting in China, where it’s been publicized, and there has been a lot of medical practitioners from the US and across the world, who have actually witnessed these procedures, these patients are paralyzed, so they cannot move, but they are awake, they are not given any medication for awareness or sedation, from that respect, and as a result of that, they can see and know what’s coming next. As your body undergoes a situation of preparing for flight or fight that causes a perfusion of your circulatory supply to your vital organs, your lungs, your heart, your brain. These organ donors are aware of what is going to happen to them and the fact that the organs that are taken have such a vast increase in the amount of blood flow, that they’re healthier as a result of the that flight or fight syndrome and the increased amount of circulation to those organs. So, the rejection rate potentially could be lower because of the high perfusion rate of the blood.”

Dr. Thimsen has been a program planner for and will speak at the Nurses Summit to Combat and Prevent Forced Organ Harvesting, a joint collaboration between the Academy of Forensic Nursing and Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting being held on November 1, 2022.

The Summit will present the “epidemiology of and the data that supports the need for advocacy and policy related to forced organ harvesting” and discuss the human rights violation from ethical and legal perspectives. It will also touch on “prevention and education of consumers, as well as our healthcare colleagues in nursing and other medical specialties.”