In June 2013, Rep. Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mr. Andrews introduced House Resolution 281, which expresses concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.
H.RES. 281 is a testimony to human dignity expressing great urgency to end horrifying crimes against humanity, unseen in human history: the involuntary, forced organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners and prisoners of conscience in China. Despite consistent outcries from concerned people and governments worldwide, these criminal acts have persisted for more than 10 years. If we remain silent, we will suffer the consequences of profound regret, knowing that our actions could have saved tens of thousands of lives. H.RES. 281 is of utmost importance in realizing the end of this genocide and in breaking the silence in the US.
Shortly after H.RES. 281 was introduced, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) co-hosted a well-attended forum in Congress to generate awareness of live organ harvesting in China and the significance of this resolution in ending these crimes. DAFOH and its professional members are anxious to see this thoroughly investigated resolution pass, and we are currently available to meet with Representatives or the media to discuss the importance of this resolution and the urgency in passing it now.
H.RES. 281 lists significant, well established evidence and sites incidents that illuminate severe violations of ethical standards related to forced organ harvesting in China. The Resolution notes that within just a few years, China has become second largest in medical transplantation in the world, without transparency, accountability or a voluntary public organ donation system.
The following factors have generated immediate concern and action by human rights groups and governments globally:
- Transplant numbers in China: An atypical development of transplantation numbers in China shows an exponential increase in transplants from 3,000 a year before 1999 to over 13,000 a year in 2004. In 2006, the China Daily reported even 20,000 transplants per year. After 2006, the sudden increase in transplant numbers did not continue but decreased and plateaued at approximately 10,000 transplants per year according to official statements. International attention could be the explanation for the decrease in transplant numbers after 2006, however there is no plausible explanation for the exponential increase before 2006.
- Brief waiting times: Chinese hospitals advertise short waiting times of 2-4 weeks for matching organs. In other countries with altruistic organ donation systems, the waiting time is about 50 times longer, depending on location and type of organ.
- Phone recordings: In 2006, research investigators David Matas and David Kilgour conducted telephone screenings, calling medical doctors at 17 hospitals in China to inquire about potential organ transplants. The doctors replied that they had organs from Falun Gong practitioners available, describing some of the organs as being “fresh.” They also stated openly that these organs were healthier than those from other prisoners.
- Landmark transplant schedules: Heart transplantations were performed with two weeks advanced notice. Two matching livers were provided within 24 hours.
- Medical and diagnostic exams: Detained Falun Gong practitioners reported widespread subjection to forced medical exams, blood tests and other diagnostic tests upon entering labor camps and detention centers. Such medical exams are costly. It is implausible to incur such expenses for labor camp prisoners who then work 12-17 hours per day under abusive and adverse conditions.
- Transplant center infrastructure: From 1999 to 2006, the number of transplant centers in China increased by 300%, from 150 to 600 centers. It should be understood that an expansion in transplant center infrastructure is connected to a long-term outlook. This projection indicates, based on past and current organ supply, that authorities are confident in maintaining a plentiful and consistent source of organs into the future. However, it is implausible that this confidence in organ supply stems from ethical organ sources. Between the years 1999 and 2006 China had no voluntary public organ donation system and the execution numbers were reported to actually decrease due to global concerns about China’s frequent executions.
- Suspicious use of consent: Voluntary, informed consent is the foundation of altruistic organ donation. The voluntary organ donation rate in China is traditionally very low and described as less than 1% of the populace prior to 2011. With 90% of the organs from the deceased sourced from executed prisoners, assuming that imprisonment and death sentences did not alter the average consent rate, the number of executed prisoners would have to be in the tens of thousands to provide enough organs for the >10,000 transplants in China annually. Chinese officials have indicated that prisoners give “consent” before their execution. However, if imprisonment has altered the average consent rate of the Chinese populace, then this proves the statement of the World Medical Association to be correct that prisoners, deprived of their freedom, are not in the position to provide voluntary consent. By China’s admission there has been no due process of voluntary consent, and the number of executions, even if they were to exceed China’s reported data, is far too low to account for more than 10,000 transplants per year. It is reasonable to state that another pool of organs, primarily from detained Falun Gong practitioners, by the tens of thousands, exists as accessible source.
- Excess supply of organs: According to UNOS, the average organ-per-donor ratio in the U.S. is about 3 organs per donor. This ratio is possible due to a publicly supported organ and allocation system, in which organ recipients are registered and waiting for a donor organ. However, China does not have a nationwide organ allocation system. Organs have been regionally allocated. There have been surpluses of organs and hospitals have advertised on the internet that they have transplant organs to donate. In 2006, the Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital advertised it would give away 20 livers and kidneys for free transplants. If a patient needed one organ, and received it from an executed prisoner, then the other organs might not have been used in time and were wasted. The 3 organs per donor ratio cannot explain the organ source of more than 10,000 transplants per year in China due to the lack of an organ allocation system. The organ per donor ratio in China is likely to be lower, and thus the number of organ sources must be higher to explain the 10,000 transplants per year.
It is implausible—under the conditions of executed prisoners as the sole organ source —to perform more than 100,000 organ transplants in China during the past 10 year period. The combination of circumstantial evidence, first hand reports and numerous investigations strongly indicates that the transplant practice in China is based on exploiting human beings as biomass, vulnerable in their position as detained prisoners and prisoners of conscience. The underlying abuse by the medical profession in China, and widespread global collusion for profit, is a crime against humanity and unacceptable in the 21st century.
As American patients continue to travel to China for rapid organ transplants and the medical community continues to cooperate and train Chinese doctors, we are morally obligated to inform patients, medical doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and universities.
Human rights and religious freedom are the founding principles of the United States, and the U.S. government should not remain silent in the face of these crimes against humanity.
Passing H.RES. 281 will prevent unwitting collusion and will surely help save lives in China. It will also show that the U.S. stands on the side of justice.
As medical doctors we oppose the practice of forced organ harvesting from prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
We call for an immediate end of this unethical practice in China and support H.RES. 281.
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