Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Grim Reality of Organ Harvesting in China

China has been in the spotlight recently in relation to their organ donations system. The high rate of transplants being done in the country has been alarming with up to 60,000 to 90,000 transplants being done in a year. 

The most peculiar thing is the availability of ready transplants with the organs being available within two weeks of a request. This beats cases of other nations with voluntary organ donation systems where the recipients have to wait for hundreds of days before the organs can be found.  The China organ donation system presents a situation where the hospitals “know” when the donors will die.

According to a report released on June 17th by an independent tribunal tasked to investigate organ transplant systems in China, forced organ harvesting is something that has been going on in China for a long time now.

This violation has been reported to be happening in Chinese prisons, with targets being convicted Falun Gong practitioners and Muslims. Human rights researchers report that medical examinations are being done on the Ulghur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese prison authorities. The medical tests are done to determine the suitability of their organs for transplants.

Since organ donation was industrialized in 2000, there has been rising concern on the origin of organs being donated. It is believed that many people have been murdered and their organs harvested. However, reports on forced organ harvesting were only made public in 2006.

In response to the allegations made on the Chinese donation system, the China tribunal was formed in December 2018. Its mandate was to look into forced organ harvesting of prisoners in China.

Chinese organ harvesting for transplants

It ran for three days where they heard testimonies from various witnesses. Some of the witnesses were former Chinese medical personnel. But With the nature of the crime, there are not many witnesses left to tell their stories. 

The Chinese tribunal sighted several human rights violations, and from the testimonies given, it was clear that organ harvesting led to the death of the patients. Unfortunately, the tribunal remains limited in its operations to only shedding light on this vice and sensitizing the international community. They can neither prosecute nor fully investigate the crime.

The Chinese government has remained silent on the subject. Their hospitals and government agencies don’t give candid data. The information gotten by investigators comes from medical research papers, patient turnover rates, and hospital renovation notices to estimate the number of transplants in every hospital. 

This silence has raised concern in international organizations, governments, and medical societies, and people are asking questions. Unfortunately, International intervention to probe the matter by the UN may not ensue since China has veto power in the UN Security Council and can halt any of its proceedings. Some governments such as Taiwan and Israel in response have put or considered measures to discourage their citizens from traveling to China to receive organs.

The Chinese doctors remain in the limelight for their wrong-doing with the charges starting from manslaughter to murder or even crimes against humanity.

Nelson O. Freytes
Nelson O. Freytes
Nelson received a liver transplant over 20 years ago due to fulminant liver failure, caused by thyroid medication. A few years after his transplant, Nelson set out to build a ‘next-level’ social network for the transplant community and started Transplant Cafe, and most recently Transplant News.

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