On the evening of June 13, the US Congressional House of Representatives unanimously passed an unprecedented proposal addressing China’s unethical organ harvesting. In her comments before the House, author of the resolution, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), referred to China’s killing of innocent people for profit as a “sickening and unethical practice [that] must stop.”
House Resolution 343
expresses concern over China’s organ procurement from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, including from “large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups,” and that China continues to “deny reports that many organs are taken without the consent of prisoners, yet, at the same time, prevents independent verification of its transplant system.” It notes China’s organ transplantation system violates the World Health Organization’s
requirement of transparency and traceability in organ procurement. The US medical community is encouraged to take action to raise awareness of the problem.
Many of the resolution’s co-sponsors spoke passionately from the floor before the vote, including Rep. Eliot Engle (D-NY) who reaffirmed the measure’s call for an immediate end to the practice of forced organ harvesting, the persecution of prisoners of conscience and further investigation. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) called the campaign to eradicate Falun Gong “one of the great horrors.”
Video footage and media coverage:
The Minnesota Senate
passed a strong local level resolution specifically expressing concern over China’s state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. Initiated by Senator Alice M. Johnson
(DFL), Resolution SF2090
includes provisions to help protect Minnesotans from unwitting collusion and proposes punishments for anyone in the state willfully involved with these crimes.
The USCIRF annual report for 2015 once again lists China as a “country of particular concern,” due to the government’s severe violations of human rights and illegal organ harvesting practices stating, “Imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners are particularly targeted.”
United States Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee Hearing
US Congressional Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher led a US Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee hearing that heard testimony by David Matas, Ethan Gutmann, Dr. Frank Delmonicoand Dr. Charles Lee. The updated Kilgour, Gutmann, and Matas report played an important role in the testimonies.
Congressman Chris Smith declared, “The Chinese government has been trafficking in organs for profit for far too long and we have strong evidence that Falun Gong practitioners were singled out for organ harvesting. We cannot accept more excuses. We don’t want more false promises. We need concerted effort to stop this barbaric practice. Organ harvesting should be condemned by the world community; by the world community any complicit Chinese officials or doctor should be held accountable.”
Human rights attorney David Matas pointed out that the huge investment in hospital infrastructure, the training of surgical personnel and the voluminous transplant related research would be economically untenable without full confidence in an ongoing abundant supply of readily available transplantable organs. He called on the US government to confront transplant tourism directly by requiring compulsory reporting of all of the country’s transplants and by refusing to allow US pharmaceutical companies to participate in drug trials where organ sourcing is untraceable. Matas said, “It’s impossible to have an island of respect for the rule of law in human rights in the transplant field in the raging sea of tyranny and dishonesty everywhere else in the system.”
Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann testified that the Chinese government’s publicly disclosed transplant numbers are but a fraction of the actual volume and how the “rise of the Chinese transplant industry was built on the foundation of Falun Gong incarceration.” He urged the United States to have the courage, as have Israel and Taiwan, to prevent its citizens from traveling to China for organs and advised that the US medical transplant community disassociate themselves from their Chinese counterparts.
Congressman Joe Pitts from Pennsylvania decried China’s subterfuge and false promises to stop sourcing organs for transplant from executed prisoners in an impassioned commentary to local media. He related how investigators and medical ethicists like NYU’s Arthur Caplan, MD, describe the system in China as killing-on-demand rather than a voluntary organ procurement system. Rep Pitts wrote, “In China, there is an entire class of people whose rights are so vulnerable that they can be imprisoned, executed, and harvested simply because of what they believe…It’s time for China to stop harvesting organs from prisoners, but furthermore, it’s time for its government to stop targeting individuals with dissenting political and religious views.”
In April, the Congressional Executive Commission on China held its most recent hearing on China’s forced organ harvesting practices. Yin Liping, a Falun Gong practitioner from Liaoning Province, testified that she was sent to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in September of 2000 for resisting the “transformation” program, which attempts to force Falun Gong practitioners through torture to give up their belief. She reported that while detained she was involuntarily subjected to an ultrasound, electrocardiogram, and blood tests at a nearby hospital yet was never given her test results or treated for any medical condition. Numerous investigative reports have revealed that during their detentions Falun Gong practitioners receive regular, unexplained medical exams without ever being treated and while being subjected to torture during their detentions.
On June 22, former Canadian Parliamentarian David Kilgour, investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann and international human rights attorney David Matas, released an updated report detailing incontrovertible evidence of ongoing state-sanctioned organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience by the Chinese Communist Party. They conclude up to 100,000 transplants occur annually in China without an identified organ source.
The 680-page report
presents meticulous evidence that the authors collected regarding hundreds of Chinese hospital bed counts, bed utilization rates, hospital revenue, surgical department personnel, staff training programs, medical journal articles, hospital websites, media reports, state funding, and official propaganda. They conclude the evidence proves incontrovertibly that live forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience is a lucrative, thriving business in China.
Matas stressed that the onus is on the Chinese government to account for the source of transplanted organs. He bemoans how the international transplant profession seemed so “easily bamboozled” by China’s semantic tricks. Matas said, “What we’re saying is that there is a huge number of transplants, from unexplained sources, and the evidence points to prisoners of conscience, primarily Falun Gong, as the source.”
Kilgour said, “This update shows beyond any reasonable doubt that it’s an industrial-scale industry, it’s many times larger than previously believed” and that transplant numbers in China have actually continued to rise. He expressed hope that The Transplantation Society, as the global leader in transplant medicine, will “take the report very seriously” and that this report will allow more people to realize that China is “the only place on earth where prisoners of conscience are murdered for their organs so that they can be sold…”
Gutmann described transplantation medicine as a “pillar industry” for China’s economy and the “incredible amount” of ongoing, new hospital construction must reflect central planning “at the highest levels of the Communist Party.” He states, “This is a new form of genocide. It’s using the most respected members of society to implement it: the medical profession” and that the report reveals “one of the greatest cover-ups in human history.”
Global media report on Kilgour / Gutmann / Matas evidence
Britain’s Daily Mail
quotes co-author Ethan Gutmann as saying “If somebody goes to China to get an organ at this point, chances are they are getting it from a Falun Gong practitioner who was murdered on their behalf.”
details how this report’s finding are in stark contrast to Beijing’s claim that since January 2015, China stopped sourcing organs from prisoners and suddenly developed the largest voluntary organ donation system in Asia.
The Globe and Mail
, Canada’s newspaper of record, reviewed the new evidence that Chinese hospitals are conducting far more organ transplant operations than officially acknowledged. Body parts available in China include: livers, kidneys, hearts, spleens, hands, breasts, arms, hearts, corneas, intestines, pancreases, thyroids, stem cells, hair and bone marrow. Hospital transplant departments even advertise five-star services, swimming pools, sky gardens, and award-winning architecture with one even boasting a $1.3-million grand piano.
Canada’s National Post
has harsh comments for the ‘butchers of Beijing’ in acknowledging China’s organ harvesting as “a widespread, outrageous and lucrative business and one the Chinese government habitually lies through its teeth about.” The article cites the new Kilgour, Gutmann and Matas report details of the intimate involvement of China’s military and security apparatus in this industrial-scale enterprise as well as China’s efforts to enforce a systemic cover-up.
The international, multilingual Epoch Times
outlines key points in the new report. Collectively over the past 16 years, hospitals in China have had the capacity to perform between 1.5 and 2.5 million transplants. Transplantation centers represent the major source of income for most hospitals, netting billions of yuan. Records of emergency transplant surgeries point to the existence of an enormous pool of captive ‘donors’ waiting for those in need of new organs.
China reports expansion of its transplant empire
agency released Huang Jiefu’s
May 2016 statement that the number of hospitals officially registered to perform transplant surgery will double within the next five years.
In addition, the China Christian Daily
relates how the number of donation coordinators will double in the coming years.
In a third article, Yibada
reports that more doctors need to be trained, as China currently has a shortage of transplants surgeons. Chinese officials reported that, in the month of February alone, “A total of 16,827 patients were saved from the post-mortem organ donations of 6,238 Chinese citizens.” These numbers imply a minimum of 2.7 transplantable organs from each deceased donor given to three separate recipients.
After years of compiling information about state-sponsored forced organ harvesting in China under the extremely difficult conditions of this concealed and non-transparent society, we now see developments that are inevitable. All levels of the international community are taking notice of the situation and beginning to understand that China has hidden data about its organ harvesting program. As the updated report by Kilgour, Gutmann, and Matas shows, the number of transplants performed in China is much larger than officially admitted. DAFOH previously reported this discrepancy in our March 2016 report.
The many actions taken at the administrative and individual levels in the past two months in the United States remind one of what it means to speak truth to power. The international community is aware of the undisclosed organ procurement practices in China and demands an end to its practice of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of all kinds, in particular from the group most commonly ignored, China’s prisoners of conscience.
Given that there are so few legislative texts critical of China, House Resolution 343 is a remarkable achievement reflecting a determination to unveil the truth and to end these crimes against humanity.
In past years, the Chinese government has responded to investigation attempts like an amoeba. Whenever new information was revealed, China adapted and came up with a new action plan; however, the actions have a common goal, which is to preserve the lack of transparency concerning the source of organs. Scrutiny of organ procurement from prisoners of conscience was blocked before it was even mentioned. Yet among all the ostensibly good-will gestures of change from China, the most critical way to demonstrate real substantial change would be to allow for full transparency regarding all organ sourcing. This is exactly what has remained concealed for over a decade.
- The implementing of the computerized organ allocation system does not guarantee that the system isn’t being used to whitewash prisoners’ organs.
- The newly built public organ donation program is heavily based on hundreds of recruiters approaching families of death bed patients to offer large financial incentives, a practice better described as domestic organ trafficking.
- While the end of harvesting organs from executed prisoners was announced in 2014, the 1984 provisions that allow the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners are still the legal foundation.
The evidence is reaching a critical mass and the escape room for the Chinese government is getting narrower and narrower. In the past, China relied upon outright denial of forced organ harvesting; however, in light of the current level of international awareness, China will need to make a new choice: confess to the forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience or attempt to defend the indefensible. With regard to the victims, the global community must demand an immediate and complete end to forced organ harvesting of all prisoners in China.
Torsten Trey, MD, PhD
Executive Director, DAFOH
Governments and Parliamentarians
A human rights forum on May 26 included testimony from doctors who cited more than 300 medical research papers authored by Chinese transplant surgeons. Of note were references to warm ischemia times of less than 10 minutes, and in some cases, just a few, or zero minutes, strongly suggesting that organs were sourced from living donors.
New evidence that the Chinese government, hospitals and officials continue to profit from the billion dollar illicit organ harvesting industry was revealed today by medical experts at a hearing jointly chaired by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Human Rights, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats.
U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, writes “When you have a country like China where hospitals are advertising online that you can come and they will get you a liver within weeks, the likelihood is that they’re going out, finding prisoners that will match these transplant tourists that are willing to pay top dollar for an organ, and then executing them.”
Medical Professionals and Associations
In response to an earlier paper claiming China has ceased sourcing organs from executed prisoners, leading experts have jointly authored a paper, “Smoke and mirrors: unanswered questions and misleading statements obscure the truth about organ sources in China,” identifying unresolved ethical issues, such as opaque data on current transplant numbers and the murky voluntary organ donation system.
The Brazilian Association of Organ Transplantation published an open letter by DAFOH’s Executive Director, Dr. Torsten Trey, announcing the group’s 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination (page 4).
Wendy Rogers, Professor of Philosophy and Clinical Medicine at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, recently called on the Scottish Parliament to condemn China’s illicit transplant program and to create legislation that criminalizes organ trading. Prof. Rogers urged Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons to sever ties with its honorary fellow Huang Jiefu, now head of China’s transplant system, and encouraged surgeons to question China’s organ procurement procedures. She also requested that Glasgow reconsider its twinning arrangement with a Chinese city associated with organ harvesting.
Investigators and Media
Haaretz report: Israeli rabbis protest health agreement with China
In a letter to Minister Yaakov Litzman, rabbis expressed concern over Israel’s recent national agreement, headed by the Health Ministry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Economics Ministry and the Israeli embassy in China, calling for partnership with China in multiple areas of medicine and patient care. It is unclear whether this agreement will compromise Israel’s 2008 Organ Transplant Act, which has effectively eliminated Israeli transplant tourism to China.
In its extensive annual report, Minghui, a source of Falun Gong related news, outlines considerable noteworthy evidence which serves to challenge the Chinese government’s claim that the majority of the organs used for transplant come from executed convicted prisoners, rather than living, unwilling Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
Authors of a new report used publicly available hospital statements and records from across China, as well as interviews, official biographies of individual doctors, and other evidence that contradicts official figures to estimate that up to 100,000 transplants are performed annually. China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, which oversees the country’s organ donations, did not respond to CNN’s request for comment
In a studio interview with CBC News, Hon. David Kilgour is asked about the evidence and facts that led to his research on forced live organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience in China. Kilgour also indicated that the update to Bloody Harvest, “will shake a lot of people, [because] the numbers [of people killed] are very high.”
The National Post cites accumulated evidence, including the new report concerning China’s organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience. While Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent barking at a Canadian journalist’s human rights related question is painted as a well-practiced response orchestrated by Beijing, Canadian Prime Minister hinted that perhaps the free trade agreement with China “might take a bit longer than they [China] would want” due to the enormity of its human rights abuses.
Survey of hundreds of hospitals in China amassed evidence showing that, in addition to 146 approved ones, many unapproved hospitals are performing transplant surgeries.
Medical professionals and human rights advocates at The International Coalition To End Organ Pillaging in China have published a damning report that examines transplantation surgery practices at hundreds of hospitals in China. “Even if voluntary donations of organs have gone up, they can’t reach this level. This is live organ harvesting,” author Ethan Gutmann warned.
The statistics from Chinese hospital websites and papers published in Chinese medical journals generated a list of 7,371 medical personnel from 765 civilian hospitals in China who are suspected of harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience including doctors specializing in organ extraction and transplantation, nurses, and anesthetists.
Dr. Ren Xiaoping, an orthopedic surgeon in Harbin, China plans to carry out full-body transplants, raising concerns among medical experts and ethicists around the world. “The Chinese system is not transparent in any way,” said Arthur L. Caplan, MD, a medical ethicist at New York University. Two groups of researchers in Guangzhou, China have already crossed ethical lines by conducting experiments on human embryos.
Artists unite to end forced organ harvesting in China
Artists Against Forced Organ Harvesting (AAFOH), a coalition of artists from Europe, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and the United States held its inaugural one-day show and press conference in New York on May 10th. AAFOH aims to bring international awareness to China’s state-sanctioned crime in its exhibition of oil paintings, traditional Chinese paintings, visual dimensional animation, and computer-generated art.
For his Peabody award-winning film Human Harvest, Leon Lee interviewed Falun Gong practitioners, who, while being tortured in custody were blood-tested, presumably for transplant matching. Of the medical tourists who received organs, Lee said, “Many of them would just fly there [China] and get a transplant several days later… they were not allowed to ask the source of the donor.”
Police recently arrested five people, including two assistants of a senior nephrologist, in an illegal organ harvesting ring operating in one of India’s top private hospitals. Fake identification documents indicated donors were relatives of recipients. A chronic shortage of transplant organs fuels a booming black-market trade in body parts in India.
Transplant tourism to China continues despite scrutiny
Malaysian MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, after being seriously ill for several months, was able to obtain a transplanted kidney in China in February, returning home to Malaysia “cheerful and active” and “looking forward to a full recovery.” A subsequent JME blog post
by a Scottish professor said, “There is no mention of the source of the kidney that the Malaysian MP received. Reports of foreigners traveling to China for transplants rarely make the media, yet they may be an important link in trying to uncover the secrets of China’s secretive transplant system….demanding an answer to the simple question: Exactly where do China’s transplanted organs come from?”
For decades, kidney traffickers have targeted an impoverished district in the village of Hokse, Nepal, 30 miles east of Katmandu. Nearly half of the villagers who have sold a kidney over the past 40 years did so to buy a house. Unfortunately, many of their houses have been destroyed in recent natural disasters.
Multilingual News Briefs
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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.