Organ Transplant Abuse in China Worse Than Before

Organ Transplant Abuse in China Worse Than Before
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

Several investigations into allegations of organ harvesting in China have been carried out throughout the past decade, but a recent update indicates the issue is more serious than previously thought..

Ten years ago a series of investigations were launched into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) practitioners in China by Chinese authorities.

David Kilgour and David Matas stated the process with their research, Bloody Harvest, which was then followed by Ethan Gurmann's The Slaughter. The three researchers have remained active in investigating organ transplant abuses in China, and recently released an update on the issue.

Results from previous investigations in Bloody Harvest show that between 2000 and 2005, approximately 41,500 organs, from an official number of 10,000 transplants a year, came from Falun Gong followers. The research also includes what the authors call evidence that the Chinese government was behind the crime.

The Falun Gong movement was started in 1992; in 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a campaign of repression against its practitioners. “Those who did the exercises after the repression campaign was launched were arrested and asked to denounce the practice. Those who did so were released. Those who did not were tortured," Kilgour and Matas observed.

This allegedly led to the organ harvesting of the captured followers. Bloody Harvest says that further laws and investigations were necessary for organ transplant abuse to end in China.

But Gutmann suspects the conclusions reached in Bloody Harvest were understated, which prompted him to launch a new investigation. Gutmann also delves into the conscience behind organ harvesting of prisoners in China, and why the CCP decided to eliminate Falun Gong.

Results in The Slaughter expose an organ-harvesting regime that “began giving discreet physical examinations of select Falun Gong practitioners in late 2000/early 2001, expanding into mass examinations (including Tibetan prisoners of conscience and the House Christian group "Eastern Lightning") by 2003.”

Now the three researchers have released their latest update on the matter and provide an assessment of transplant volumes while addressing the cover-up, including the CCP’s claims of recent reforms. They also incorporate whistleblower evidence and plastination issues.

The update concludes that total number of organ transplants is much higher than official statistics provided by the Chinese government indicate. The sources of these transplants are also found to be primarily Falun Gong practitioners, but also a large number of Uyghurs, Tibetans, and House Christians.

It finds that in addition to the government, state institutions, the health system, hospitals, and the transplant sector itself are all complicit in the crime.

To alleviate the issue, the update says the global intergovernmental community should conduct an independent investigation into the issue, and the global transplant community should take more caution when collaborating with the Chinese transplant community.

China, which banned taking organs from executed prisoners in Janaury 2015, expected more than 12,000 organ transplants to take place last year, according to officials.

The full update is available here.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole