Lung Transplants for COVID-19 Raise Concerns Over China’s Transplant Ethics

In June, the United States performed the first successful double lung transplant of a COVID-19 patient at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Only a few others in China and Europe have received lung transplants for the novel Wuhan coronavirus.

Lungs accounted for just 7% of the nearly 40,000 U.S. organ transplants last year and patients often wait for weeks on the transplant list, as donor lungs appropriate for transplant are typically scarce. The patient in Chicago was quickly moved up in line on the national lung transplant list due to multiple-organ-failure.

Transplant professionals from Falls Church, VA recently published an editorial in the Annals of Translational Medicine of a review of lung transplantation in China over the past 40 years.

The editorial praises the “rapid growth in the number of lung transplants, particularly over the last few years, at two major centers in Wuxi Hospital and China-Japan Friendship Hospital” and calls the China Lung Transplantation Registry “a welcome resource that was established in 2011.”

The authors then surmise that the disproportionate number of lung transplants for those with occupational lung diseases and lymphangioleiomyomatosis most likely highlights the unmet need in China for transplants for more common diseases such as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Additionally, they point to the centralized, highly orchestrated and prioritized transportation of organs facilitated by the China Lung Transplantation Alliance and the availability of ex-vivo lung perfusion as other areas “where we can learn from the Chinese system.”

China places great emphasis on academic collaboration with and the training of medical staff at transplant centers outside of mainland China in order to expand the country’s current lung transplant centers and develop new ones. “It is apparent that China is emerging as a leader in lung transplantation in Asia. It is gratifying that the lung transplant community in mainland China is reaching out to other Asian countries for collaboration as a part of Asian Society of Transplantation,” the authors conclude, hoping that “comparing the China experience with the rest of the world might enable important lessons for the global lung transplant community.”

Meanwhile, researchers around the world question how two groundbreaking full-lung transplants could be performed during a strict lockdown in China with no transparency regarding donor lung sourcing, leading to suspicions that compatible lungs, obtained within just five days, were obtained by forced extraction. It has been alleged that nearly all organ donors in China are involuntary victims who have their organs extracted while still alive are commoditized to benefit Chinese transplant hospitals and the government.

China’s organ donation records and official organ transplant datasets are alleged to be continuously manipulated and systematically falsified. For the past 20 years, China has perfected an “on-demand” transplant market with waiting times for matching organs measured in days or weeks.

In 2006, a senior military doctor of the General Logistics Department of the Shenyang Military Command told The Epoch Times that “China is the center of international live organ trading, and has accounted for more than 85 percent of the total number of live organ transplants in the world since 2000.”