As additional evidence of forced organ harvesting emerges, initiatives at the national and community level appear, challenging China’s acts of deception and breaking the silence of world leaders. Across many regions, people have a deep understanding of what constitutes human rights and human dignity. Breaches in the most basic ethical standards trigger an outcry in one way or another. In Spain, concerned citizens took the initiative with a petition campaign, calling upon their parliamentarians to take action against transplant abuse in China. This national initiative touched the soul of the Spanish people as evidenced by the support received. In a suburban community in New Jersey, a 13 year-old middle school student chose the topic of forced organ harvesting for a school research project. This student, George, challenges the establishment by asking why forced organ harvesting takes place and why grown-ups continue to let it happen without taking action. With his unbiased curiosity, George speaks of the elephant in the room. Whether they be large scale initiatives or grass roots activities, these endeavors teach us that no one can ignore crimes against humanity. Such steps encourage and even embolden people all over the world to take action against China’s force organ harvesting of innocent people.
On February 20th, Carlos Iglesias, legal representative of the NGO, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), presented over 250,000 signatures from Spanish citizens to the Spanish Congress of Deputies in Madrid. He was joined by two victims of torture from China who have been granted asylum in Spain, Noble Prize nominees David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, human rights attorney David Matas and journalist Ethan Gutmann, co-authors of the extensive report on China’s transplant abuses Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter-An Update.
The distinguished group insisted that the Congress launch its own investigation into the atrocities being committed in China and urged the Spanish government to comply with the terms of the European Parliament Resolution of December 12, 2013, “to publicize the issue of forced organ harvesting in China” and to “… condemn publicly the abuses committed in China.”
The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) held its first meeting to address organ trafficking and transplant tourism around the world from February 7th-8th. Pope Francis called for the unprecedented gathering to combat organ trade practices which he has referred to as a “new form of slavery.”
In attendance was former Health Minister Dr. Huang Jiefu, chairman of China’s National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and, as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the highest-ranking Chinese official to attend a Vatican event. Before the conference began, ethicists and human rights activists from various countries wrote to Vatican officials to express their concern about China’s participation at the summit and urge them to consider the risks of aligning with a government that so severely violates human rights.
Huang presented only two slides demonstrating China’s compliance with ethical procurement of organs. The first depicted the recent increase in organ donations while the second detailed the Chinese regime’s cracking down on illicit transplantation activity.
Dr. Jacob Lavee, President of Israel’s Transplantation Society, was not assured by Huang’s presentation, arguing that an “appropriate international body with the power” to investigate must oversee surprise inspections and interview donor relatives. He added, “The term ‘executed prisoners’ obscures the distinction between individuals sentenced to death by the Chinese criminal justice system … and prisoners of conscience killed extra judicially… As long as there is no honesty and accountability for what took place, the killing of innocents on demand, there can be no guarantee of actual ethical reform.”
Dr. Gabriel Danovitch, Medical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at the UCLA Medical Center, also expressed grave concerns over China’s lack of transparency. He challenged the Chinese attendees to answer clearly and without obfuscation whether or not prisoners’ organs have ceased being used.
Lord David Alton, a longtime human rights advocate and prominent Catholic, also emphasized the importance of being direct with China. “I have encouraged the Pontifical Academy to consider inviting researchers whose findings suggest that forced organ harvesting continues on a scale far larger than was previously known,” he wrote. “It is right to try to engage with China on these issues, but it is vital that we do so critically and with transparency, and not in a way that simply provides China with a propaganda victory.”
Chinese transplant professionals persist in their attempts to legitimize unethical transplant practices by publishing clinical studies and research in respected international transplant journals. Despite prior demands for retraction of a study based on unethical organ procurement not being met, recent demands about another such paper are being addressed appropriately.
In a January 2017 letter published by Liver International, DAFOH-member physicians demanded the retraction of a September 2016 article in the same journal by Yu et al., claiming the Chinese authors breached international organ donation standards by using organs that most likely came from executed prisoners.
Although Yu et al.’s study has been published, Liver International editor Mondelli has told both Science Magazine and The Guardian that the disputed study, related correspondence and a retraction statement will be published in the journal’s print edition and the study’s Chinese authors will be banned from ever submitting papers to the journal again. Additionally, the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) verified that Liver International retracted the Chinese paper because the source of the transplanted livers could not be traced. The Epoch Times reported, “Human rights investigators say that…. Chinese doctors have been able to conduct a large number of organ transplants, on demand, over the years because the Chinese regime systematically harvests the organs of prisoners of conscience.”
In response to Huang Jiefu’s claim that China banned organ harvesting from executed prisoners on January 1, 2015, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) conducted a series of investigations between January 2015 and June 2016, published online and chronicled in the new award winning documentary Harvested Alive.
Recorded phone call surveys of 165 Chinese hospitals certified to perform transplants described high transplant numbers, ample organ supplies and short waiting times.
Organ donation offices admitted slow development of the voluntary donation system with donations often facilitated through financial incentives to relatives of deathbed patients, a clear violation of WHO Guiding Principles.
Accounts of donation rates published by the Chinese government reported an increase of 100 percent from 2015 to 2106 while rates for all other countries increased just 5-10 percent. The veracity of China’s donation rates is called into question by the obstacles facing the fledgling donation system and the deep-seated cultural reluctance among the Chinese people to donate organs.
Lack of transparency around organ sourcing in China makes verification of announced reforms impossible. Reported transplants numbers juxtaposed with low voluntary donation rates make it probable that prisoners of conscience continue as the primary organ source for most transplant surgeries performed in China.
The 2017 Freedom House report, The Battle for China’s Spirit-Religious Revival, Repression, and Resistance under Xi Jinping confirms credible evidence of large scale forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. The subsection titled, The money trail: Expenditures, exploitation, and organ harvesting states:
“It is in the context of dehumanizing propaganda, severe abuse in custody, and economic inducements that the ultimate form of financial exploitation has been reported: the killing of Falun Gong detainees and the extraction of their organs to be sold at high prices to Chinese patients and foreign ‘transplant tourists’ as part of a multibillion-dollar industry……Freedom House reviewed available evidence compiled by other investigators (including phone calls made to Chinese doctors), interviewed former Falun Gong prisoners of conscience who provided detailed accounts of blood tests in custody, spoke to a Taiwanese doctor whose patients have traveled to China for transplants, and met with the friend of a military hospital employee who had firsthand knowledge of organ extraction from a Falun Gong detainee as recently as 2011. The above review found credible evidence suggesting that beginning in the early 2000s, Falun Gong detainees were killed for their organs on a large scale.
There are reasons to believe that such abuses continue…. After admitting that extracting organs from executed prisoners was problematic, the Chinese government has initiated a voluntary organ-donor system, but its capacity remains small. Moreover, in 2014, a top health official announced that organs from prisoners would be embedded within the same database, even though prisoners are not in a position to provide free consent for “voluntary” donations.
A detailed June 2016 study of publicly available data on the number of transplants being conducted at medical institutions in China found that the scale is many times greater than the 10,000 transplants per year often cited by officials….”
Gutmann began an independent investigation into China’s state-sponsored organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience by interviewing over a hundred refugees, doctors and law enforcement personnel over a six-year period. He documented the unusual phenomenon of “retail organs only” examinations as survivors of prison camps told of inexplicable medical exams, blood, x-ray and ultrasound testing despite their being routinely subjected to torture. Only prisoners of conscience, primarily Falun Gong practitioners but also Tibetans, Uyghurs, and House Christians were medically examined while other inmates of the prison system were not.
Published in 2014, The Slaughter also profiles doctors who had either participated in live organ harvesting in China or had contact with mainland hospitals utilizing organs explanted from Falun Gong practitioners. Gutmann’s ‘best estimate’ was that 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners and up to 4,000 Uyghurs, Tibetans and House Christians had been subjected to organ harvesting between 2000 and 2008. His most recent research with Kilgour and Matas, Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: an Update, released in June 2016, suggests that the number of innocent people victimized between 2000 and 2106 could be as high as 1.5 million.
The closing words of The Slaughter addresses responsible governments, organizations and individuals, “No Western entity possesses the moral authority to allow the [Chinese Communist] Party to impede the excavation of a crime against humanity in exchange for promises of medical reform. As a survival mechanism of our species, we must contextualize, evaluate, and ultimately learn from every human descent into mass murder.”
NJ middle school student learns of forced organ harvesting for
By 13 year-old George P.
The image of the Tankman on the Tiananmen Square put a lasting image in my head. The courage of the Tankman in China, a single young man standing in front of a tank, influenced me very much and led me to read about the Chinese Government and the bravery of the people who stood against it. I began to read and study about persecution in China and about persecution by Communist Regimes. Eventually, I learned about Falun Dafa, a group of people persecuted simply for their beliefs and embracement of Chinese classical culture.
This led me to my burning question, which is: why are Falun Dafa supporters persecuted by the Chinese Government? I decided to research the Falun Dafa Persecution for my I-Search project in my Middle School. I researched on Falun Dafa first through Shen Yun, a classical Chinese dance performance that I had watched twice in the past. I became aware of the persecution of these people and learned further that they were tortured and became prisoners of conscience because of their practice of meditation and qigong. They were outlawed by the Chinese Government in 1999. This concerned me because I am interested in world situations and human rights. I belong to the Global Citizenship Club and thought this would be a good topic to research.
As part of my I-Search research, I had to conduct two interviews. I interviewed two medical doctors, Dr. Damon Noto and Dr. Torsten Trey. This then led me to the knowledge of forced organ harvesting and transplant tourism in China. I learned that the Chinese authorities harvested organs from prisoners of conscience. This affected me emotionally and made me want to do something to help. I thought initially I could help by increasing awareness in my I-Search Fair. But does awareness really help enough? I can’t help think that there is more to be done. I am a changed person since I learned about this and have become more mature. It made me realize that I am, to a certain degree, not able to help to the extent that I would like to and aside from awareness, I can only pray. I will also try to brainstorm with my Global Awareness Club and see if we can collectively try to raise awareness in our school.
On the day of my I-Search project, many people listened to my presentation. Overall, there was great interest on behalf of my own classmates and my teachers. At first they were very upset, and then it aroused their anger and disgust in humanity. My friends were thoughtful and asked, “Why is this happening?” They also thought the United Nations should be involved and help. One teacher commented, “I cannot believe that this is happening!” They were very surprised to learn that such an inhuman practice exists in today’s world and voiced that they were willing to give their support. I am glad that I had the opportunity to present this serious topic for my I-Search Fair and will continue to increase awareness regarding the situation.
Available evidence demonstrates gross human rights violations in the organ procurement practice in China. Organ procurement without consent from prisoners or their families as well as procurement of organs from incompletely executed, still-living prisoners continues unabated. The international community must cease abetting the perpetuation of China’s present system.
Investigation proves China still using prisoner organs after January 2015 Phone surveys of Chinese transplant hospitals after 01/01/2015 detail increases in transplants, ample organ supplies and short wait times. Donor centers report low donation rates. A huge discrepancy exists between voluntary donations and transplants performed. Grave ethical concerns persist regarding China’s transplant system, as prisoners of conscience remain most likely organ source.
“It is in the context of dehumanizing propaganda, severe abuse in custody, and economic inducements that the ultimate form of financial exploitation has been reported: the killing of Falun Gong detainees and the extraction of their organs to be sold at high prices to Chinese patients and foreign ‘transplant tourists’ as part of a multibillion-dollar industry.”
Mr. Liu was perplexed at being subject to medical examinations in prison despite severe torture. While beating him, abusers were warned not to damage his organs. Imprisoned in 2013, Ms. Zhang and 100 others were repeatedly forced to provide blood and urine samples and undergo X-rays and EKGs to assess viability of retail organs.
Organs are harvested from all prisoners of conscience, including House Christians, Uyghurs, Tibetans and Falun Gong. Transplant surgeries represent the largest source of revenue for hospitals. The Chinese government, military and civilian institutions are involved in pillaging human organs, dubbed “the kernel at the center of human rights violations in China.”
Chinese official have admitted that the 1984 Provisions for Regulations on the Use of Dead Bodies or Organs from Condemned Criminals was “profit-driven, unethical and violating human rights.” As no new laws or regulations exist, experts say prisoners’ organs are still used. Prof. Dr. Huige Li, DAFOH’s EU delegate and professor at Saarland University says, “If you can’t change China, you can at least do something in your own country, like not being an accomplice and adapting your laws.”
So writes activist Benedict Rogers, adding, “Pope Francis has described the trade in organs as ‘immoral and a crime against humanity’. The church should support calls for an international inquiry into what David Matas describes as the ‘mass killing of innocents’ and Ethan Gutmann calls ‘a form of genocide cloaked in modern medical scrubs’.”
Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour believes it is likely that the new US administration will be tougher on China and hopes that the US and Canada will enact laws banning their citizens from participating in transplant tourism just as Israel, Spain and Taiwan have done.
Dr. Charles Els, DAFOH Advisory Board member, spoke during the University of Alberta’s International Week, following a screening of the documentary film Human Harvest. Referencing a recent case where Albertans were planning to travel to China for transplant surgery, Dr. Els suggested audience members email their MLAs about legislation to ban travel to China for organs.
German lawmakers want laws passed to prevent Chinese surgeons from being trained in Western countries. Researchers recommend denying entry to foreign doctors involved in killing for organs, restricting Western pharmaceutical companies supplying transplant drugs and conducting clinical trials in China, passing laws against “transplant tourism” and fully informing the public about killing for profit.
A symposium at Westmead Hospital was canceled just two days in advance after the organizers were informed that doctors in the delegation from China’s Qilu Hospital of Shandong University had been implicated in the widespread state-sanctioned live, forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China.
Two documentary films about forced organ harvesting in China have been barred from theater-wide release in America as a result of China’s influence on the US movie industry. Actress Anastasia Lin has been blacklisted in Hollywood for her movie roles and advocacy against China’s human rights atrocities.
UK media reported London’s Chinese embassy warned a student debating society against allowing Miss World contestant Anastasia Lin to speak at Durham University by insinuating her participation could damage UK-China relations. University of Durham officials disregarded the base threats as they fully support freedom of expression.
Benedict Rogers, human rights activist and Deputy Chair of the UK’s Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, exposed China’s attempt to whitewash its transplant abuses at the recent Pontifical Academy of Sciences conference in Rome by detailing overwhelming evidence of ongoing organ harvesting. He additionally called for international action against China’s crimes.
Israeli transplant surgeon, Jacob Lavee, MD, Australian ethicist Wendy Rogers, PhD and independent researcher Matthew Robertson call for a withdraw of engagement in China’s organ transplant industry by the international medical and professional community, pending greater transparency and government accountability for past abuses.
The first heart transplant in 1967 was hailed as miraculous but opened a ‘Pandora’s box’ of ethical challenges. Transplants are not permanent fixes. Healthy organs are in short supply and recipients die waiting. Science fiction is reality in China with healthy persons’ organs harvested for those who pay; ethical medicine replaced by political greed.
Two fresh livers delivered within twenty-four hours of Dr. Huang Jiefu’s request were never used, according to four official Chinese media reports. The U.S. House of Representatives, among others, have concluded that prisoners of conscience, primarily Falun Gong, are the pre-blood typed captive population killed on demand for organs.
Since June 2011, one of our nation’s top hospitals, the UCLA Medical Center, has partnered with First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. The hospital’s director, Dr. Zheng Shusen, is known to be involved in forced, live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, yet UCLA awarded Dr. Zheng its highest honor, “Distinguished Professor.”
At the International Liver Transplantation Society conference, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, China, on November 21, 2015, transplant surgeon, researcher and educator John Fung, MD, PhD, FACS, chief of Section of Transplantation Surgery and director of University of Chicago Medicine Transplantation Institute, talks with transplant surgeon Dr. Zheng Shusen, chairman of the Anti-Cult Association of Zhejiang Province, established to vilify and incite public hatred towards Falun Gong.
The first question nearly everyone asks when first learning about live, forced organ harvesting is, “How could physicians, who have sworn to uphold the Hippocratic oath, do such a thing? How could surgeons open up one person’s body to remove their organs, knowing that person will then die, in order to save the life of another?
Activist beauty queen Anastasia Lin, a Chinese Canadian immigrant, answered British human rights advocate Benedict Rogers when he asked exactly that question:
“This tragic and barbaric practice forces us to confront the question of how humans, doctors trained to heal, no less, could possibly do such great evil? The aggressors in China were not born to be monsters who take out organs from their people … It’s the system that made them do that. It’s the system that made them so cold-bloodedly able to cut people open and take out their organs and watch them die. No one is born to be so cruel.”
This creates such cognitive dissonance in the minds of those raised in Western societies where physicians are expected to act with the most upright ethical standards. It is inconceivable to us that a doctor would purposefully remove another human being’s organs, without even using anesthesia, to sell to whoever will pay for it.
The evidence that ample supplies of transplantable organs continue to be available on demand in China’s transplantation centers is overwhelming. It is the elephant in the room, not only in hallways of eminent transplant departments, none of whom have seen anywhere such transplant numbers as those coming from China, but also in television studios, editorial boardrooms and parliamentarian hallways. It is the “China-elephant” that nobody dares speak about.
Hundreds of transplant professionals across China, many of whom were trained in Europe, Australia, or the United States by our most respected medical institutions, are committing murder on operating tables daily throughout China. Ignoring this truth implies conscious complicity in unethical and criminal actions.
It is my ethical duty as a human being and physician to expose these evil atrocities. Furthermore, I believe there exists a moral imperative for all human beings to objectively review the critical yet often agonizing eyewitness testimonies, the passionate descriptive passages, the concise and logical explanations and the blunt exposés delivered with such clarity.
The truth has been uncovered at no small cost by a small army of compassionate and dedicated investigators who recognize the importance of exposing such heinous human rights abuses not only to save its victims but also to jolt the world out of complacency and repair the rend in mankind’s morality.
We must let China know we see through their stall tactics, lies and deceitful propaganda. We must speak out against this carnage by urging our governments, medical professionals and medical industries to immediately disengage from any entanglement with the Chinese transplant industry.
Where is the compassion of those who doubt the evidence, continue to engage with and refuse to confront China? How could they not be considered guilty coconspirators and accessories to the mass murder of millions of innocents? It is my fervent hope that all such individuals will soon join us in taking a stand against this abomination. China’s blatant breach of morality has gone beyond the limits of tolerance.
Ann F. Corson, MD
Please consider a financial contribution to support the work of DAFOH. Give online
Or send your gift to:
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting
1875 I Street, 5th floor, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) aims to provide the medical community and society with objective findings of unethical and illegal organ harvesting. Organ harvesting, the removal of organs from a donor, without free and voluntary consent, is considered a crime against humanity, as well as a threat to the integrity of medical science in general. This edition of our newsletter offers up-to-date information on international efforts to stop unethical organ harvesting.
Partners in Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting
Mail: 1300 I Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005