Over the past decade, reports have come out about the Chinese regime’s killing of prisoners of conscience to feed its vast, lucrative organ transplantation industry. New evidence and figures mined from many sources by respected researchers are uncovering the nature and scale of these abuses.
On June 22, 2016, three independent investigators published a 680-page updated report, which outlines an industrial-scale, state-directed system of organ transplantation reaching a scale that death-row prisoners and voluntary donations could never account for.
China’s organ harvesting is becoming a focus of media outlets all over the world. Hearings were held by the U.S. Congress, the British Parliament, and the European Parliament. The U.S House of Representatives and the European Parliament have passed resolutions condemning the practice.
“The [Communist] regime’s ghoulish and inhumane practice of robbing individuals of their freedom, throwing them in labor camps or prisons, and then executing them and harvesting their organs for transplants is way beyond the pale of comprehension and must be opposed universally and ended unconditionally.”
—Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Congresswoman (R-FL)
A Decade of Investigation
The story first came to light in March 2006, when a whistleblower claimed that as many as 4,000 Falun Gong practitioners had been killed for their organs at the hospital where she worked. She also said that her former husband, a surgeon at the same hospital, had disclosed to her that he had removed the corneas from more than 2,000 living Falun Gong practitioners between 2000 and 2001.
One week later, a Chinese military doctor not only corroborated the woman’s account but also stated that such atrocities were taking place in 36 concentration camps throughout the country. The largest, he said, held 120,000 persons.
In response, David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, and David Matas, an international human rights lawyer, launched an independent investigation and came to “the regrettable conclusion that the allegations are true.” They compiled their findings in the book Bloody Harvest.
Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann later spent seven years doing his own research. He reached similar conclusions in his book The Slaughter.
In their new report released in June 2016, the researchers took a fresh look at hundreds of transplant hospitals
U.S. Medical Ethicist
In countries with advanced healthcare capabilities and well-organized organ donation and allocation systems, patients must usually wait years for a donor to become available. Yet, in China, waiting times for kidney and liver transplants were commonly listed in weeks. According to the 2006 Liver Transplant Registry Report, 27% of a large sample were emergency transplants for which organs were obtained within days or even hours.
Some hospitals even advertised “donors seeking matched recipients.” Doctors could procure multiple organs for the same patient in quick succession, either due to rejection or as spares. Hospital websites listed vast arrays of transplant types and their prices.
These data point to a large number of readily available organ sources waiting to be matched to patients.
“There is credible evidence that Chinese prisoners of conscience are murdered on demand for their organs, in a process of reverse matching not practiced anywhere else in the world. In most countries with well regulated deceased donor programs, legally and ethically procured organs from a dying person are offered to recipients on the waiting list who are the best ‘match’ for the available organs. In China, this process is turned on its head. Wealthy recipients are matched against a large pool of prisoners, with the best matched prisoner scheduled for execution at the convenience of surgeon and recipient.”
— Wendy Rogers, Professor of Clinical Ethics, and Deputy Director of
the Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics
Huge Numbers of Transplants
The investigators found widespread reports of surgical teams performing transplants around the clock, bed utilization exceeding capacity, expansion of transplant wards, construction of new buildings, and ambitious plans to almost double the current number of transplant-qualified hospitals from 169 to 300.
China officially claims to perform 10,000 transplants each year. However, this number is surpassed by just a few hospitals.
Based on government-imposed minimum capacity requirements for transplant centers, the 169 approved transplant hospitals could have conducted 60,000 to 100,000 transplants per year. The total system-wide capacity since 2000 would have exceeded 1 million transplants.
Unidentified Organ Sources
Traditional Chinese customs require bodies to be preserved intact after death. China did not start piloting organ donation programs until 2010. International organizations estimate the number of executions in China at a few thousand each year and decreasing since 2000. The government promised to stop using organs from death row prisoners starting in 2015.
Organ sources identified by the Chinese government—voluntary donors and executed prisoners—number in the low thousands and account for a tiny fraction of the transplants performed each year. The vast majority of transplants have not been accounted for.
“In the U.S., in Europe, you have to be dead first in order to be an organ donor. In China, they make you dead.”
—Arthur Caplan, Leading U.S. Medical Ethicist
The investigators observed tremendous development in China’s human organ transplant industry after 1999. The timing of this growth coincided with that of the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution campaign against Falun Gong.
Explosive development in China’s organ transplant industry after 1999
Falun Gong is a meditation practice based on ancient Chinese traditions of health and self-improvement and the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
By the end of the 1990s, the Chinese government estimated that over 70 million people were practicing Falun Gong. The former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin saw Falun Gong’s popularity and revival of traditional values as a threat to his rule, and launched a violent campaign to “bankrupt them financially, ruin their reputations, destroy them physically.”
Hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners from all over China traveled to Beijing to appeal to the central government, only to be arrested and tortured. When many were unwilling to disclose their identities to protect their families and friends, they became part of a large anonymous population held captive by the state. More practitioners were rounded up all across China. This is when large numbers of them started to disappear without a trace.
In contrast with a large portion of death row inmates, Falun Gong practitioners are required to refrain from alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs; they are seen as healthier than the general population. They have become a key target for live organ transplantation. There are blood testing and organ examination specially for Falun Gong practitioners, which have no other explanation than suitability for transplants.
“The ultimate conclusion of this update and indeed our previous work, is that China has engaged in the mass killing of prisoners of conscience, primarily practitioners of the spiritual based exercises Falun Gong, but also Uyghurs, Tibetans, and select House Christians, in order to obtain organs for transplants.”
—David Matas, co-author of new China organ harvesting report,
international human rights lawyer, nominee for 2010 Nobel Peace Prize
The Chinese regime has prioritized organ transplantation in its national strategy and invested heavily in research, development, industrialization, and personnel training in transplantation technology. Since 2000, national plans and programs and other national funds have incorporated a large number of projects related to organ transplantation.
The vast majority of medical universities and their affiliated transplant centers, military and civilian, have received significant funding from all levels of government.
“We need to give all of thanks to the government for the support extended for our completing such a large number of organ transplants every year. In particular, the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Public Security system, judicial system, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Civil Affairs have jointly promulgated laws to establish that organ procurement receives government support and protection. This is a one-of-a-kind in the world.”
— China International Transplantation Network Assistance Center (CITNAC) website
The Communist Party’s demonization and brutalization of Falun Gong and the health system’s insatiable demands for organs have formed a symbiosis. Each feeding on the other, the combination became an unprecedented, and barely imaginable, human catastrophe.
“China is the only country in the world where a government runs an industrial program, kills people, and sells their organs.”
—David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific,
for 2010 Nobel Peace Prize
History of Live Organ Transplantation in China
The Chinese regime started harvesting organs from prisoners well before the year 2000. Below is a brief overview of organ transplantation in China:
China performs first human organ transplant.
Clinical organ transplantation begins in China.
Executed criminals become a source of organs under a regulation promulgated by the state.
Uyghur political prisoners begin to be targeted for their organs.
Crackdown of the popular spiritual practice Falun Gong begins.
Number of transplants and transplant centers in China grow exponentially.
Independent investigations find allegations of forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong to be true.
China promises to end organ procurement from death row prisoners (not to be confused with prisoners of conscience).
Huang Jiefu, former Vice Minister of Health, announces that death row prisoners will become part of the unified allocation system and will be counted as voluntary citizen donors.
China announces that it has stopped using organs from executed prisoners.
On June 22, three independent investigators jointly published a 680-page updated report on the on-demand nature and scale of organ transplantation in China, finding that it is far larger than previously estimated.
July 27, 2016
The European Parliament passes a new declaration that condemns organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China and calls on actions to end this practice in the People’s Republic of China.
Jun 23, 2016
The U.S. House of Representatives holds a joint subcommittee hearing on “Organ Harvesting: An Examination of a Brutal Practice.”
Jun 22, 2016
Former Canadian cabinet minister David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas, and investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann publish an update to their books Bloody Harvest and The Slaughter. The new findings show continued expansion of transplantations in China after organ harvesting first came to light in 2006, driving factors behind the industry’s growth, the role of Party and government agencies and individual officials in implementing and perpetuating the systematic killing of prisoners of conscience for their organs.
Jun 13, 2016
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passes a resolution condemning the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience in China. H.Res.343, an item of legislation that expresses concern by the House of Representatives on “persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from nonconsenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China,” passed unanimously on the evening of June 13.
Nov 5, 2015
A documentary (‘Human Harvest’) on the killing of tens of thousands of Chinese prisoners of conscience for their organs wins the 2015 Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) award for best international investigative documentary.
Jun 25, 2015
The U.S. House of Representatives introduces H.Res.343, a resolution that would condemn the Chinese government for harvesting the organs of prisoners of conscience.
April 14, 2015
The documentary “Human Harvest” wins a prestigious Peabody award.
.March 16, 2015
Huang Jiefu, China’s transplant chief and a former vice minister of health admits that China’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang was implicated in organ harvesting when Huang was giving an interview with the Hong Kong-based, Beijing-friendly broadcaster Phoenix Television.
Feb 3, 2015
On February 3, 2015, the Canadian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human Rights unanimously passes an all-party motion condemning and calling for an immediate end to China’s state-sanctioned harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience, including but not limited to practitioners of Falun Gong and Uighurs.
July 30, 2014
With unanimous support, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs endorses a house resolution condemning systematic, state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting in China.
July 9, 2014
The Council of Europe adopts the Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs.
March 6, 2014
The Italian Senate passes a resolution on Organ Harvesting in China (text in Italian).
December 12, 2013
The European Parliament adopts a resolution against organ harvesting.
December 11, 2013
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific approves H.Res.281, calling to end unethical organ harvesting in China, with 167 Congressional sponsors.
December 10, 2013
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) delivers 1.5 million petition signatures to the U.N. High Commission in Geneva on Human Rights Day 2013.
A bipartisan Dear Colleague Letter in the U.S. Congress addresses concerns about organ harvesting in China and is co-signed by 106 members of Congress.
The Taiwanese parliament passes a resolution condemning forced organ harvesting in China.
The U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) includes in its 2012 Annual Report the topic of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.
September 18, 2012
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith pens a condemnation of organ harvesting in China in the Washington Times.
September 12, 2012
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on Organ Harvesting of Religious and Political Dissidents by the Chinese Communist Party (Video testimonials) (Complete videos).
August 13, 2012
A Chinese doctor admits to harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners.
The U.S foreign policy journal World Affairs publishes an article by Ethan Gutman exposing organ harvesting in China.
Peter Worthington, co-founder of the Toronto Sun, pens the article “China’s Grim Human Harvest.”
The book State Organs is published. It contains writing by twelve professionals on the topic of live organ harvesting.
May 24, 2012
The U.S. Department of State releases its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011, citing allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.
The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation publishes an editorial: A call for a policy change regarding publications based on transplantation of organs.
December 5, 2011
Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann reveals ground zero, where and how live organ harvesting began in China.
2008 – 2010
The Supreme Court of Israel, the nations of France, Germany, Russia, Venezuela, and various U.S. cities and states ban The Bodies Exhibit.
Hawaii becomes the first state to ban The Bodies Exhibit, which was founded in the Chinese city of Dalian whose hospitals boast short wait times for organs and is home to some of China’s most populated labor/prison camps.
Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann pens the article “China’s Gruesome Organ Harvest” for The Weekly Standard.
The Transplantation Society (TTS) and the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) pass the “Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism,” outlawing the illegal sale or procurement of human organs.
The travel of Israeli transplant patients to China stops completely after the Israeli Knesset passes the Organ Transplant law.
February 28, 2008
Dr. Noel, the Special Rapporteur on Torture to the United Nations, reports on organ harvesting of Falun Gong in China.
The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation issues a statement condemning the sale of organs from live or deceased donors.
The book Bloody Harvest is published by David Kilgour and David Matas, the authors of the Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China.
Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour, international human rights lawyer David Matas, and investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann launches an independent investigation into allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China.
The World Medical Association condemns organ harvesting in the WMA Council Resolution on Organ Donation in China.
Two whistleblowers allege that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners.