On November 22, 2012, the Taiwanese Yuan Voted for Budget Resolution Concerning Medical Organ Transplantation, which is legally binding for the Department of Health.
According to the statistics of the Taiwanese Department of Health, Taiwanese people accepted organ transplants from overseas with up to 1,754 people having gone to China, accounting for 88.6% of all overseas transplants between 2000 to 2011. From 2005 to 2011, the National Health Insurance paid up to 7,734,540,000 NT dollars (~250 million US$) for postoperative anti-rejection drugs. The Department of Health has no legal ground to request organ transplant recipients register where they received a transplant organ abroad after returning home for postoperative healthcare. This may contribute to organ recipients receiving their organs from unknown origins, or even from unethical organ sources, becoming unknowing accomplices in illegal organ harvesting. Yet, after returning to Taiwan recipients may still have the benefits of national health insurance and receive payments for anti-rejection drugs. This is a significant problem in the legislation. Therefore, a budget resolution has been drafted stating that within three months, the Department of Health will require major medical institutions and physicians to register the country of all organ sourcing and the hospital information (including surgeon identification) where patients received their organ transplants abroad when they apply for postoperative health insurance payments after returning home. This is to support transparency of foreign organ transplantations and ensure the safety of transplant recipients.
Neurosurgery Expert Dr. Chun-Jen Shih says: Stop Communist China’s Live Organ Harvesting Atrocity
On December 4, 2012, the Asian branch of NTDTV interviewed Dr. Chun-Jen Shih, a renowned Taiwanese neurosurgeon and the most respected former director of the Taiwanese Department of Health. Dr. Shih stated that Communist China’s forced organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners and others prisoners of conscience is a disaster for all of mankind. He also said, a regime with such disrespect for life must face difficulties surviving. Dr. Shih was pleased to hear that over two thousand Taiwanese physicians have signed a petition condemning Communist China’s live organ harvesting and he hopes more people will join this effort, which he believes will have a tremendous impact. After carefully reading every line of the Taiwanese physicians’ petition, Dr. Shih expressed his condemnation of Communist China’s forced organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners and others prisoners of conscience. He said: “Removing a living person’s organs against her will, this action, this crime, is no longer a medical procedure; it is murder, right? I think, if we allow this crime to go on, it would be a major disaster for mankind.”
Dr. Shih served as the director of the Taiwanese Department of Health under presidents Chiang Ching-kuo and Lee Teng-hui. In that past, Dr. Shih created multiple landmark medical legislations and improved Taiwan’s health care system. In particular, Dr. Shih established the medical professional criteria for determining brain death and created the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance.
In 1987, the National Taiwan University Hospital performed the first organ transplant surgery in Taiwan, but it was done without meeting all the regulatory reporting requirements. Dr. Shih, infuriated by this infraction, insisted on upholding the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance, and issued the Taiwanese Department of Health’s first (and one of its largest) fine. He said “without meeting these rigorous medical requirements, a surgeon who performs an organ transplant may run into problems. He may be sued for killing the donor, and if the recipient happens to die from post-operative complications, the surgeon may have killed two people.”
Dr. Shih also taught a number of world-renowned neurosurgeons, including Dr. Tu Yong-Kwang who was recently elected president of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (2013 to 2017). Dr. Shih hopes that more of his students will step forward to condemn Communist China’s forced organ harvesting atrocity. Dr. Shih, Chun-Jen cautions “for a government that lacks the ability to respect life, I believe this government definitely cannot survive in the future; at that time, there must be a very strong reaction.” He went on to say, “Whether China will survive or die in the future, now is a critical time. For Falun Gong’s plight, I fully support this petition. Listen to these kind people’s voice. This matter is essential for China; this matter is extremely, extremely important.”
Dark Secrets of China’s Organ Transplant Industry: Special Report: Exclusive Interview With a Taiwanese Organ Transplant Recipient’s Family
On November 29, 2012, New Tang Dynasty’s (NTD) Asia Pacific Taiwan News reported that between 2000 and 2011, almost 90% of Taiwanese residents who went overseas for organ transplantation went to mainland China. Despite the risks associated with unknown organ sources and above-average post-operative complication rates, several Taiwanese patients spent an astronomical 15 million New Taiwan dollars (approximately $516,000 USD) to obtain organ transplants in mainland Chinese hospitals.
This report was compiled from NTD’s exclusive interview with a family member of a Taiwanese organ transplant recipient. This interview revealed some of China’s organ transplant industry’s dark secrets. The organ transplant recipient and his family spoke to NTD on condition of anonymity. The recipient is hereinafter referred to as Mr. P, and his family member as Mr. F.
Mr. F began, “After we got [to mainland China], the first person we contacted was Dr. Li from an organ transplant center. On the same day, the Center’s director told us to find a place to stay, and a series of [medical] exams was started.”
The patient, Mr. P, is an elderly man with end-stage liver disease and end-stage kidney disease. Prior to his surgery, Mr. P asked a Taiwanese businessman for information on organ transplantation overseas. In early September 2012, Mr. P traveled to mainland China’s Tianjin First Central Hospital and received concurrent liver and kidney transplantations.
Mr. F said “Our initial plan was just to get a liver transplant, but the doctors [in Tianjin] suggested that, instead of returning later for a kidney transplant, it would be better to perform both transplants at the same time.”
Mr. F said it was impossible to find concurrent matching donor liver and kidney in Taiwan. In contrast, the First Central Hospital in Tianjin took only one month from Mr. P’s initial visit to find him a concurrently matched liver and kidney.
Mr. F said “from the time we first met [the Tianjin First Central Hospital’s director of transplant surgery] to the day he found suitable donor organs for us, it took only a little over one month. Honestly, I don’t know how he did the matching. Perhaps he already had a database, and when a recipient came, he would know if he had a match.”
Mr. P was not the fastest match at this Chinese hospital; Mr. F said that he heard some transplant seekers had received matching donor organs within one week of initial evaluation there.
Mr. F said “There were other foreign patients [at the Tianjin hospital], but I didn’t ask where they were from. I know there is a special guarded international patient ward on the hospital’s10th floor. I guess the patients inside have special backgrounds.” He added “There were five to seven transplant surgery teams at that hospital with probably a few dozens surgeons. The operating rooms were on the top floor. I never went up there. I don’t know what time of the day they usually do surgeries. It was 4 pm when [Mr. P] was taken to the operating room … and he was taken out around 3 am.”
Like other transplant surgeries performed at that hospital and at other Chinese hospitals, Mr. P’s surgery was done in secret. Chinese hospitals conceal information from patients and their families. Patients are given very vague information on the surgeons, donors, and organ matching process.
Mr. F said “It took about three months total, from our initial visit to our return [with a new liver and new kidney]. The cost to us was about 15 million New Taiwan dollars” (approximately $516,000 USD).
Upon returning to Taiwan, Mr. P’s health improved initially. However, despite the quick donor organ match and hefty bill, Mr. P’s post-operative course was complicated by infections, renal failure, and altered mental status. According to Mr. F, within a month after surgery, Mr. P developed a stroke and lost consciousness. Doctors in Taiwan think these symptoms developed from a post-operative infection. “Two months after [Mr. P’s] surgery, he is still in intensive care unit,” said Mr. F.
Other sources reported that some surgeons in mainland China each perform about 250 liver transplants every year, and some transplant seekers had received two matched donor kidneys within 48 hours of initial evaluation. Over the last decade, China’s incredibly short transplant waiting times have attracted patients from all over the world and given rise to the transplant tourism industry, which in turn has fueled unethical organ procurement practices on a national scale.