European Parliament considers declaration against unethical organ harvesting
The European Parliament is poised to take a stronger stand against unethical transplant practices in China. On April 27th, a written declaration was submitted under the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedures on ending organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. The Commission and Council were called upon to implement the Parliament’s December 2013 resolution on the same subject and to organize an independent investigation. In July 2014, the Council of Europe adopted The Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs to criminalize illegal organ transplantations and all countries have been invited to sign. DAFOH encourages MEPs to vote for and support the new declaration.
China’s organ transplant business thrives despite vows of reform: action is imperative
News of desperate patients traveling to China for fast-track, high risk transplants continues to surface in the media despite the regime’s adamant claims to have ended the practice of supplying organs of unknown origin to foreigners. The recent death of a Ghanaian celebrity in a Chinese transplant center, and the ongoing efflux of Canadian patients heading to China for organs reveals that the country’s transplant tourism business is far from over.
The European Parliament’s new declaration against forced organ harvesting is a timely move given this ongoing evidence and DAFOH’s newest publication, a comprehensive critique and analysis of China’s officially reported transplant numbers, reinforces the need for immediate action. With a lack of medical transparency and accountability, and the ongoing crisis of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China, patients are at high risk when engaging in transplant tourism there.
Nii Odoi Mensah, film star and former president of the Ghana Actors Guild, died on April 12, 2016 two weeks after traveling to China for an organ transplant. After being on dialysis for over a year in his home country of Ghana, Mensah heard about a hospital in China that could provide him with a new kidney in a short time. Many of his friends and colleagues, including the President of Ghana, contributed money for his transplant operation and peri-operative care. The cause of his death was unknown. Despite large cash donations, the Chinese hospital may have stopped treatment due to a lack of full payment. The Mensah family reports the actor’s body will not be released to them unless they pay $68,000 in hospital fees, undertaker costs, and other expenses.
Canadian hospitals typically provide treatment without question to returning transplant tourists, despite their often requiring more expensive, aggressive care and infection-control procedures. Researchers attributed increased costs to poor surgical techniques, infection with Hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and other endemic diseases. Inadequate tissue matching with the donor at the time of the original operation was also cited as a cause for poor outcome, researchers say. This study calls for governments to collect data on and to criminalize unethical transplant tourism.
DAFOH’s newest publication, New perspectives on China’s transplant numbers: unethical organ procurement from prisoners of conscience, estimates that as many as 200,000 prisoners of conscience in China have been subjected to forced organ harvesting since 2000. This study examines the most current officially reported transplant numbers and evaluates this data in the context of individual hospital statements.
Doctors and parliamentarians speak out
Increasingly politicians, medical professionals, and ordinary citizens around the world are learning the truth about forced organ harvesting in China. When presented with the undeniable evidence accrued over the past decade, many are shocked into momentary disbelief that any government could do such a thing to its own people. Yet as the gravity of the truth sinks in, they soon decry these horrors and become motivated to speak out.
UA College of Medicine, in partnership with Arizona State University, The University of Utah, and DAFOH hosted a traveling lecture series featuring Dr. David Beyda, David Matas, Dr. G. Weldon Gilcrease, and Winston Liu. Mr. Matas, internationally renowned human rights attorney, proposed a resolution recommending specific consequences for any U.S. doctor that refers patients to China for organ transplants or provides patient information to Chinese organ transplant agencies. He also said that U.S. professors should understand that their Chinese medical trainees might become transplant surgeons involved in such unethical transplant practices, committing crimes simply “too vicious.”
Canadian CBC’s Global News featured an interview with DAFOH advisor, Dr. Charl Els, prior to two screenings of the Peabody Award winning documentary Human Harvest in Alberta. Dr. Els said, “The evidence, at this point, points towards China being the only country on the planet who has actually co-opted their hospital system, their legal system, their prison system to be able to harvest organs from involuntary, non-consenting adults in order to fuel a very, very lucrative organ transplantation tourism system.”
Pseudo-scientific journals often dilute the academic and ethical standards of reputable internationally established journals and peer-reviewed publications. They can become a backdoor for unethically acquired scientific knowledge related to transplant medicine and organ procurement and data from China that may be derived and presented without transparency or validity. Caplan explains that “all these polluting factors detract from the ability of scientists and physicians to trust what they read, devalue legitimate science, undermine the ability to reproduce legitimate findings, impose huge costs on the publication process, and take a toll in terms of disability and death when tests, treatments, and interventions are founded on faulty claims.”
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup hearing for House Resolution 343, bringing this critically important proposal one giant step closer to a floor vote in the House of Representatives. In a statement during the markup, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said, “by passing this resolution we can send a message to the Chinese regime, the U.S. medical community, and our State Department that we condemn China’s organ harvesting. We know that it’s still going on and we must do more to end this practice immediately. We cannot allow these crimes to continue. I urge my colleagues to support this measure.”
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
International media is bringing widespread attention to a problem that is so disturbing and controversial it cannot be ignored. China’s secretive unethical organ procurement system has been the topic of discussion from the New York Times and Newsweek to prime time television and social media bloggers all over the world.
In April, David Kilgour and David Matas presented their pioneering investigative reports on forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in a TEDx talk in Munich, Germany which included film clips from the documentary, Two Davids & Goliath – Exposing the Chinese Government’s Secret Trade in Harvested Organs. The news went viral on international social media.
Also in April, Dr. Alexis Genin, neurobiologist and scientific advisor for DAFOH, was interviewed by the French public television network France 5. In its program The Health Magazine, he described three credible lines of investigation initiated after 2006. Careful review of the published Chinese medical literature revealed that hundreds of transplants have taken place with no reference made as to the source of organs. In 2011, these findings led major scientific journals to require full disclosure of organ sourcing for all published articles. Dr. Genin pointed out that every investigation team has concluded that China’s unethical and illegal organ procurement system is not the result of criminal black market networks, but orchestrated from and sanctioned by the highest levels of the Chinese government.
Most recently, the New York Times published an article, “Signing Up Organ Donors in China Can Be an Uphill Battle,” with the story of a Chinese nurse organ donation coordinator who describes her challenges in obtaining consent for organ donations from the relatives of recently deceased hospital patients. The article quotes a Chinese transplant surgeon who revealed that even when organs are voluntarily donated to China’s new public organ bank, the national delivery system is so slow and ineffective that organs often go to waste.
The NYT quoted a deputy minister speaking of a unique “Chinese method” in its voluntary system, suggesting that China does not abide by international standards but instead follows its own rules. China’s notorious 1984 provision permitting organ harvesting from executed prisoners is an example of China’s tendency to ignore globally accepted ethical standards.
This “Chinese method” of organ procurement has since expanded to primarily include the forcible removal of organs from living prisoners of conscience. The article did not address the issue of seemingly artificial developments in the official Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) donor registry numbers. Internet screenshots of the RCSC’s website on two consecutive days show a sudden increase of 25,000 registered organ donors within 24 hours. This is highly implausible with no precedent anywhere else in the world.
As a result of China’s masterful use of public media channels to appear acceptable in the eyes of the international transplant community, leading western transplant organizations have endorsed China’s unsubstantiated claims based on altruistic hopes for real change. The DAFOH spring newsletter is a reality check that paints quite a different picture. There is no credible evidence that suggests we should let down our guard. On the contrary, we are bound by due diligence to ensure that China’s most vulnerable prisoners of conscience do not continue to have their organs secretly harvested for profit.
DAFOH encourages our members and readers to discuss this newsletter with their colleagues and friends and to share it with their social and public media contacts.
Torsten Trey, MD, PhD
Executive Director, DAFOH
Governments and Parliamentarians
Six Taiwanese counties and cities passed multi-partisan resolutions urging the Chinese government to immediately stop state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting and support the more than 200,000 Chinese people who have filed lawsuits against former Chinese dictator, Jiang Zemin, for crimes against humanity.
At the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing China’s forced organ harvesting was called “a horror show,” and Florida Rep. Ros-Lehtinen called upon the House to act: “It does the Falun Gong and prisoners of conscience the world over a disservice if our State Department continues to whitewash China’s human rights violations because it’s not a problem that’s going to go away simply by ignoring it.”
VIDEO: FAC markup of H.Res.343
Watch the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee’s markup hearing on House Resolution 343, including representatives speaking to the urgency of this resolution that condemns the practice of state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting in China and encourages the U.S. medical community to help raise awareness of unethical organ transplant practices in China.
Medical Professionals and Associations
Ethicists and researchers from across the nation came to discuss and debate ethical issues surrounding organ donation and transplantation, the selling of organs, and forced organ procurement at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine’s eighth Public Health Bioethics Symposium.
The international, peer-reviewed Journal of Bioethical Inquiry applauded the award winning documentary, Hard to Believe, saying: “This documentary is extremely important for those involved in organ donation and transplantation, human rights, healthcare, ethics, and the law. The credentials of the interviewed experts are impeccable.”
Attendees of the March 2016 Medicine and Religion Conference, “Approaching the Sacred: Science, Health and Practices of Care,” held in Houston, Texas, learned about China’s unethical live forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience during a screening of the 2014 Peabody Award winning documentary film Hard to Believe.
In a rare interview with a Chinese nurse, the NY Times explored the nurse’s role working as a ‘human organ donation coordinator’ in educating the public and obtaining consent for voluntary donation from relatives of deceased patients. The biggest obstacles to donation in China are strong religious and cultural beliefs that the body must remain whole after death. In 2015, voluntary donations in China provided only a fraction of total organs needed.
Dr. Damon Noto educated students about unethical organ procurement practices and called upon medical doctors to help end forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China.
Israeli media, Epoch Times, hosted a medical conference in March, at Tel Aviv University with discussion by leading Israeli medical specialists. DAFOH Advisor Dr. Jacob Lavee, director of Tel Aviv’s Heart Transplantation Unit, spoke to a crowd of over 900 attendees about unethical organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China.
Investigators and Media
In this 2015 TEDx talk, David Matas, human right attorney, and David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, summarized conclusive and overwhelming evidence that proves China’s military hospitals have, for decades, violated medical transplant ethics by sourcing organ for transplant from both executed prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
Watch intimate one-on-one interviews with former Canadian Secretary of State, human rights activist, and investigative attorney David Kilgour. This revealing series outlines the critical body of evidence of forced organ harvesting from living prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China and offers insights and solutions to end this crime against humanity.
Nancy Scherper-Hughes, Berkeley professor and director of Organs Watch, was interviewed recently by Big Think’s Philip Perry. Global demand for organs is “insatiable” and although organ trafficking has been documented in many parts of the world, China is the only country where evidence exposed state-run organ trafficking of prisoners of conscience.
Members of all parties of the Scottish Parliament as well as the Church of Scotland are ignoring a major human rights issue. All remain silent about the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s honoring Professor Huang Jiefu, who is linked to unethical and illegal transplant practices in China.
Human rights groups urge Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons to purge honorary fellow, Huang Jiefu, head of China’s beleaguered transplant system. Investigations have found executed prisoners are still being used to provide organs for transplants, despite Jeifu’s promise to end the practice.
In February, 100 million households in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria learned about China’s organ harvesting atrocities with the broadcast of Human Harvest, followed by a one-hour panel discussion. The film has also aired on other European stations including the largest TV network in Spain as well as Australia’s SBS and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A major newspaper in Norway provided links to the film with subtitles in Norwegian.
The producers of the award-winning documentary Hard to Believe created a screening and discussion guide detailing China’s abuses in transplant organ procurement practices that offers thought-provoking educational questions. FAC Chairman Ed Royce has cited the need for public education throughout America on forced organ harvesting from prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
Buzz Nigeria reports the Chinese government harvests organ from live political prisoners. The paper’s crime section cites evidence that thousands of illegally detained prisoners are the source of organs for China’s lucrative transplant tourism trade. Prisoners are said to have their organs forcibly removed without being put under anesthesia.
For eight years, Dr. Huang Jiefu, head of China’s Organ Transplantation Committee, had been a honorary professor at his alma mater, the University of Sydney. Amidst strong public outcry over Huang’s self-reported practice of sourcing organs from executed prisoners, his professorship was allowed to lapse in November 2015.
Canada’s Global News Morning interviewed DAFOH advisor Dr. Charl Els regarding Canadian documentary Human Harvest. Canadians David Kilgour and David Matas first documented China’s horrendous organ harvesting practices ten years ago, yet the global community has been slow to respond. Dr. Els noted that the Chinese government primarily targets Falun Gong practitioners for forced organ harvesting, as they are very healthy.
On March 24th, London’s Henry Jackson Society hosted “27 Years After Tiananmen Square: A Human Rights Assessment.” Miss Canada 2015 Anastasia Lin’s platform is to raise awareness of oppression and labor camp abuses in China. She emphasized the need for the West to further its criticism of China.
Become a DAFOH member doctor:
Support DAFOH with a charitable gift:
DAFOH is founded and organized by medical doctors of various specialties from all over the world. Membership is free.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to support the work of DAFOH, please 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.