US scholar calls for international pressure on China's organ transplant industry

US scholar calls for international pressure on China’s organ transplant industry

In late June, Dr. Jacob M. Appel, director of educational ethics in psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine, New York, and Professor Eric Trump of the German department at Vassar Institute, New York, posted this. Commentary in the Times Union, calling on the international community to put pressure on China’s organ transplant industry for the crime of harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience. Below is a translation of the full text of the commentary, the original can be found here.

US scholar calls for international pressure on China's organ transplant industry
(Artwork: David Tadevosian/Shutterstock, Royalty-free stock photo)

The Winter Olympics in China will be held in February 2022. Lawmakers from the United States, Canada and Australia, along with more than 180 human rights organizations worldwide have called for a boycott of the Games to protest against China’s human rights abuses. However, it is naive to expect that boycotting the Olympics will change the behavior of the Chinese regime.

Instead of taking a symbolic and generalized gesture, one that will primarily damage our athletes, take a specific action to mitigate one of these behaviors. China’s regime’s most serious human rights abuses. Please reduce the illegal execution of prisoners of conscience to obtain organs for transplants for Chinese citizens and foreigners traveling to China for organ transplants.

In the United States, we have organ donors who agree to provide organs for transplantation. It is illegal to buy or sell organs because non-voluntary donors may have their organs harvested. Although the system of organ allocation in the United States has flaws, it does not allow human organs to become commodities.

In China it is different. Two recent reports have revealed startling details about how the Chinese government practices organ harvesting. The first is “Genocide” [bằng] medicine” (Medical Genocide), a book published in 2018 by the US-based China Organ Harvesting Research Center. Second is the Court’s report báo [điều tra cáo buộc thu hoạch nội tạng tại] China 2020, the result of an independent judicial investigation initiated by the Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC).

By 2000, China’s modest transplant industry had grown exponentially, and this was when the authorities began detaining adherents of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. Zheng Shusen, a well-known Chinese liver transplant surgeon and president of the Zhejiang Provincial Anti-Evil Cult Association, labeled Falun Gong as a “evil cult” and is a “virus”. Attitudes similar to those of Trinh Thu Sam have turned the followers into enemies of the state – and made them a multimillion-dollar organ store. Detained Falun Gong practitioners described having to undergo routine screenings and medical checks, which typically require prior organ transplant selection.

In the face of international pressure, in 2015, the Chinese regime created a voluntary organ allocation system, although its data is not transparent and comprehensive. China’s annual official transplant volume hovers around 10,000. However, the country’s massive transplant infrastructure shows the lies of that number. By 2006, China had 500 hospitals performing transplants. Considering only one hospital that specializes in liver transplants, the Tianjin Oriental Organ Transplant Center, this hospital already has 500 dedicated transplant beds, which corresponds to about 6,000 transplants per year. This figure approximates the annual number of liver transplants performed across the United States.

Furthermore, the waiting time for an organ transplant in China is measured in days or weeks, not months or years. Chinese actor Fu Biao (Fu Biao) received his liver just a week after being diagnosed with cancer. When his organs were rejected, he continued to receive a transplant a month later. Such rapid turnover is unprecedented in a voluntary organ donation system. In fact, China offers on-demand organ transplants to tourists. In one well-documented case, an Israeli patient flew to China in 2005 for a heart transplant, and the transplant was scheduled two weeks earlier. The only way to plan a heart transplant is to select a victim in advance to have their heart removed.

Instead of relying on the actions of governments, the international medical community can take measures to force China to comply with basic human rights standards. Until China can prove that it has stopped profiting from the organ harvesting of its citizens “unexpected”, transplant researchers should refuse to share medical knowledge with their Chinese counterparts. Journals can choose not to publish Chinese transplant studies unless researchers can prove the organs came from voluntary donors. The transplant community should refuse the participation of Chinese transplant surgeons unless they can demonstrate that they adhere to internationally accepted ethical standards. Several countries have taken action. Israel, Italy, Spain and Taiwan have passed laws banning organ tourism. In 2006, two major transplant hospitals in Queensland, Australia, banned joint organ transplant research programs with China.

It will take a long time for such forceful actions on an international scale to pressure China to allow oversight of the transplant industry, and perhaps one day, reform. it. Until then, China’s surgical community will operate under a dark cloud of boycotts.

Author: Jacob M. Appel & Eric Trump
Translated by Minh Nhat

see more:

  • China claims a miracle: The number of people ‘donating organs’ has increased 100 times since 2015

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