In an unprecedented statement of support and intention The White House has acknowledged that unethical organ harvesting from “executed prisoners,” and severe human rights abuses of spiritual and religious groups, are an unacceptable reality in China. Despite China’s promises to abolish the ongoing practice, the U.S., “Will continue to monitor the situation and actions that Chinese authorities take to fulfill the commitment.”
As welcome as the announcement is to the global medical community and human rights advocates, the White House response did not address a central concern: the forced organ harvesting from living prisoners of conscience in Chinese prisons, forced labor camps and military hospitals. Although the White House voices grave concern for the persecuted spiritual group Falun Gong, it falls short of identifying that it is Falun Gong practitioners who are reportedly the primary group subject to organ harvesting in China. Persecuted and socially vilified by the millions, they are imprisoned for their beliefs and subjected to implausible, costly and systematic medical diagnostics in forced labor camps. Advocates and investigators have been calling on the UN for years to take action and investigate on the ground in China.
Jacob Lavee, MD, was the featured lecturer at the prestigious Harvard Medical School 8th Annual Joseph E. Murray Visiting Professor in Transplant Surgery Lecture on November 18, 2014, sponsored by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Video Link
Dr. Lavee is the founding director of the Heart Transplantation Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is Associate Professor of Surgery at Tel Aviv University and is a past president of the Israel Society of Transplantation. As a founding advisory board member for DAFOH, Dr. Lavee has made essential contributions since 2007.
As a dedicated advocate for ethical organ procurement practices, Dr. Lavee played a critical role in the original drafting of the transplant law in Israel in 2008. The law prevents transplant tourism to China, and encourages public organ donation. A concerted effort by the Israeli government to increase altruistic donation was proven effective with a 60% increase in the first year of the law’s implementation.
Dr. Lavee, a prolific author, has written extensively on the topic of unethical organ harvesting. He authored a chapter in State Organs (2012), and an article in the November 2013 issue of Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, “Impact of legal measures prevent transplant tourism: the interrelated experience of the Philippines and Israel.” Two other pertinent articles appear in the October 2014 issue of the American Journal of Transplantation, “Organ procurement from executed prisoners,” and the February 2015 issue of ISHLT Links, “In the spotlight: bleaching organ procurement crimes in China.” As a renowned expert in the field, he is a frequent speaker on transplant related discussions internationally.
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December, 2014, saw a period of activity in China’s transplant program that has not been observed at any time prior. China announced plans to halt taking organs from executed prisoners by January 1, 2015. Then, Huang Jiefu, director of China’s Organ Donation Committee, made an alarming and unprecedented proposal: Despite dire organ shortages, China would arrange cross-Strait organ exchanges with Taiwan. With a manipulative redefinition of standard organ donor nomenclature and classic doublespeak, China’s most recent attempt to whitewash unethical organ procurement practices have failed to appease.
Human Rights Organizations
Doubt regarding China’s intention to end the use of executed prisoner organsThe Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group remains skeptical about the promised timeline to end reliance on prisoners organs as China redefines its organ procurement terminology.
DICG concerned that China continues taking prisoners organs
Since 2006, China has made statements about ending the practice of organ procurement from prisoners and developing voluntary deceased organ donation. But, the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group says, “Serious concerns remain about the ongoing use of organs from executed prisoners.”
A direct command for genocide
The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) published evidence that indicates a high ranking Chinese military official disclosed that former head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Jiang Zemin, gave orders to kill tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs.
Over 2,000 surgeons from 231 hospitals involved in live organ harvesting
WOIPFG publishes new information that thousands of Chinese transplant surgeons and centers are using surgical methods consistent with those used with living donors. Yet, China endorses highly limited use of living donors organs.
Video report of investigative research on live organ harvesting in ChinaVision Times reviews new research on evidence of pervasive live organ harvesting in 765 Chinese facilities since 1999: 176,267 kidney transplants, 40,170 liver transplants, 1,928 heart transplants and 137,294 cornea transplants.
Human rights violations in China warrant condemnation
The Mindszenty Report states “China is just as dangerous and repressive as always,” criticizing the lack of media coverage given to the widespread repression of traditional spiritual and religious groups, ethnic minorities and the alarming profits of harvesting human organs from prisoners of conscience.
Governments and Parliamentarians
Unanimous motion demands an immediate end to forced organ harvesting, calling on Canada to “discourage and prevent Canadians from taking part in transplant tourism, where the organs have not been obtained in an ethical, safe and transparent fashion.”
Sanctions to combat transplant abuse
David Kilgour presented a chronology of research highlights on the history of organ pillaging/trafficking in China at the UK Parliament and the Assemblies of Wales and Scotland, asking the UK and other nations to enact legislation, sanctions and policies to avoid collusion.
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting Actions
A new proposal by China to build a mutual organ exchange platform with Taiwan is of utmost concern as it encourages Taiwan to violate global ethical standards. All countries and regions, including Taiwan, are urged to repel this threat to medical ethics.
DAFOH: World should be skeptical of China’s promise to end organ harvesting
China’s latest announcement to change organ procurement policy is yet another attempt to stifle the growing international outcry against forced organ harvesting. Since 2007, China has made repeated promises to end unethical transplant practices, yet all remain unfulfilled.
DAFOH open letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
DAFOH presented the DAFOH Petition 2014 results, with a request to newly appointed UNHRC High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to review the evidence of forced live organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. The doctors group encouraged the Commissioner to reflect on the stark reality of the suffering of millions of victims in China today. Nearly two million people, internationally, have signed the DAFOH petition since 2011.
Investigators and Media
Why the short wait times for organs in China?Chinese surgeon reports mental instability after five years of removing corneas from living people. His hospital had vast underground chambers for “storing” prisoners prior to organ harvesting. Forced live organ harvesting has made China second only to the USA in number of transplant surgeries annually.
Video: BBC goes undercover to investigate China’s transplant tourism industry
In August 2014, a BBC News reporter went undercover pretending to “liver-shop” for his ailing father. The chief surgeon admitted organs came from prisoners and a liver would be available within three weeks. The hospital’s cafeteria was abuzz with foreigners wealthy enough to buy organs.
Live forced organ harvesting continues in China
Citing new research asserting that “China is still removing the organs of its prisoners without consent, and that this is happening while detainees are still alive,” this report gives an overview of past and present research and international action taken to address this human rights crisis.
Poll shows many Chinese do not believe donated organs will be used altruistically
Confounding China’s promises to end taking organs from prisoners, and the failure of the organ donation program, this survey by Nanfang Daily shows 81% polled believe “Organ donation leads to organ trade,” citing widespread distrust of COTRS, suspicions of trafficking rings and corruption in China’s organ coordination center, the Red Cross Society.
Podcast: Demonstration brings awareness about illegal organ harvesting
In an Australian radio broadcast covering a peaceful protest at the People’s March during the G20 Summit, former prisoners of conscience and a member of Parliamentarians Against Forced Organ Harvesting (PAFOH), share their views and personal detention experiences.
Voluntary donation may not be sufficient to reduce reliance on prisoners’ organs
As China responds to global pressure to end forced organ harvesting and develop an effective organ donation program, unpaid volunteers serve as makeshift donation coordinators, encouraging donation and obtaining written consent from family members, while facing widespread cultural opposition in a country where organ donation is taboo.
China’s shift from silence to denial of organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience
Until recently, the CCP simply ignored accusations and evidence of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, diverting inquiries, refusing to allow inspections and spreading propaganda about whistle blowers who brought awareness of this secretive human rights atrocity into the mainstream.
Video: i24 TV News reports China is a hot bed for organ harvesting
This report interviews three eyewitnesses on unethical organ harvesting practices in China. Jacob Lavee, MD, recounts the underpinnings of the 2008 Israel Transplant Law, the first country to make obtaining a transplanted organ of unknown origin in China illegal for Israeli citizens. David Kilgour answers questions about the evidence, cautioning that the world should not believe, “for a nanosecond,” that China will stop sourcing organs from prisoners, noting that the salable parts of one human body in China are worth $500,000. Chinese labor camp survivor, Sarah Lau, shares her experiences with implausible medical and blood testing in detention to determine her suitability as an organ donor.
Call for Action:
Make your voice heard by telling the White House what you think about forced organ harvesting.
After responding to a popular “We the People” petition, to “Investigate and publicly condemn organ harvesting from Falun Gong believers in China,” on the White House official website, the President’s staff is now inviting feedback from concerned citizens. The petition
, authored by three American doctors, posted to the President’s website in December, 2012 and garnered 29,000 signatures within 30 days
. ‘We the People’ petitions must meet high standards to warrant an official response, and due to the high volume of petitions few are actually answered.
The White House recently published a long awaited and welcomed response to this petition stating the government has “Urged China to cease harvesting organs from executed prisoners,” and that the issue has been raised with senior Chinese officials. “The Chinese government’s human rights practices and treatment of Falun Gong practitioners remain causes for concern,” says the White House. The announcement is the first time the White House has made an official statement in support of a petition advocating organ procurement reform in China. With a promise to monitor the situation in China going forward the response acknowledges that, “The Chinese government’s respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom have deteriorated.”
Please add your voice by reading and signing the petition, then complete the White House survey “Tell Us What You Think about We the People and This Petition Response on Organ Harvesting in China.”
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Dear Colleagues and Friends,
China is reacting on multiple levels to an increasing global awareness of its practice of procuring organs from prisoners. Yet, the reactions are vacuous and deceiving in nature.
The 2007 pledge to the World Medical Association, the 2013 Hangzhou Resolution and the recent bold announcement promising to end organ harvesting from executed prisoners by January 2015, all have something in common: the wolf continues its cruel practice in sheep’s clothing.
While Western media reported on the promise to end organ harvesting from death row prisoners by January 2015, they did not comment that, in reality, the same practice was simply redefined and marketed under a new terminology. Now, instead of being forced, death row prisoners are to be given the “right to donate their organs as citizens.” Neglecting the prisoners’ lack of freedom and exposure to coercion, the altruistic free choice to donate organs has been twisted into being marketed as a “right” to donate organs in order to conform to this new situation. But, the previous practice is still occurring, under new terminology.
It also seems macabre that in China death row prisoners have the “right” to donate their organs while common citizens in China do not have the right to freely practice their belief, or surf uncensored on the internet. Essential to altruistic organ donation are freedom, knowledge, and time for informed decisions. According to Chinese law, executions must take place seven days after sentencing, leaving little time for death row prisoners to make informed choices.
The announcement to end the practice by January 2015, only addressed death row prisoners. It did not acknowledge, nor commit to ending, the forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, primarily from Falun Gong practitioners, but also Uighurs, Tibetans and Christians. Without including this unacknowledged organ source, any pledge to end the practice is incomplete and demands our unabated attention.
A recent article on the Chinese news source, Radio China International, CRIEnglish, referred to China’s 1984 regulation allowing the use of organs from executed prisoners. The author stated, “China was neither the first, nor the only country to adopt such a practice; nor was it a country that has ever used the largest number of such organs.” This comment is misleading. Although there are a few countries that allow the practice, only China is systematically performing state sanctioned, unethical organ harvesting. China boasts more than 150,000 transplants in the past 15 years, most of them sourced from prisoners, rendering China the country with by far the largest exploitation of this group. The statement that China has never used the “largest number of such organs” is simply untrue.
Huang Jiefu, director of the China Organ Donation Committee and former vice-minister of health, made a surprising and bizarre statement in a 2014 interview with Chinese media iFeng. When asked by the anchor Wu Xiaoli, “Am I right to understand that there will not exist situations of organ donations from death row prisoners after 2015, whether voluntary or involuntary?” Huang replied, “We certainly do not want to use such words as organ donations from death row prisoners anymore. In their developmental process of organ transplantation, all countries in the world began with death row prisoners’ organ donations. But, once these countries and regions established a system of public organ donations, then, they canceled their death row prisoners organ donations.”
This is a falsified description of the history of transplant medicine. It is not true that “all countries in the world” began with death row prisoners’ organ donations.
We encourage all medical doctors and medical organizations to rectify this statement, to make it unequivocally clear that this is false information and give China a stark warning to stop spreading such lies to cover up their own unethical practice.
Forced organ harvesting, or coerced organ procurement without free, voluntary and informed consent, is unethical and criminal. It requires that the medical profession demand an immediate end to the practice.
Torsten Trey, MD, PhD
Executive Director, DAFOH
Videos, Books, Web, Reports
The Slaughter: Mass Killing, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem
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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.