CJ Werleman reports on how China is meeting organ transplant demand when the country has a voluntary donor rate of only one for every two million citizens.
China announced that it had performed the first double transplant on a 59-year-old last week who had been given only days to live due to suffering irreversible pulmonary damage after contracting the Coronavirus. But the fact that the patient had to wait a mere five days for a “consenting” donor to provide a perfectly matching set of lungs, raises further questions about the scale and scope of the country’s illegal forced organ harvesting programme.
There are growing concerns that more than three million Muslims, detained in camps, are being used as a kill-on-demand emergency backstop for Chinese Coronavirus patients.
“Whilst around the world waiting times for a single lung from a suitable donor could be years, China has shown this week that it need only be days, for two perfectly matched lungs to be rustled up,” observes the Bitter Winter, an online magazine devoted to exposing China’s human rights abuses.
These suspicions are being raised because China has one of the lowest organ donor rates in the world, with a voluntary donor rate of only one for every two million citizens, compared with the US where 45% of people are registered as organ donors. Of the 1.5 million Chinese citizens who are in need of an organ transplant donor each year, fewer than 10,000 receive a successful match and organ, representing a supply-to-demand ratio of 1:150, according to the Journal of Biomedical Research.
To meet this shortfall in demand, China has established an industrial-scale, illegal forced organ harvesting programme – one that now derives huge profits from marketing and selling forcibly removed organs from executed political prisoners to organ transplant tourists, according to the final judgment delivered by the China Tribunal, an independent panel of British lawyers and human rights activists, on 1 March.
“Forced organ harvesting has happened in multiple places in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and on multiple occasions for a period of at least 20 years and continues to this day,” they concluded. “There has been a population of donors accessible to hospitals in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) whose organs could be extracted according to demand and this has coincided both with the long-term practice in the PRC of forced organ harvesting and with many Falun Gong practitioners, along with Uyghurs, being compelled to have medical tests, focused on their organs.”
Enver Tohti, a former oncology surgeon in Xinjiang who is credited by human rights organisations with participating in the “first known case of live organ harvesting”, explained to me how Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have mandated and implemented compulsory blood sample collection from Uyghur detainees, with the objective being to create a national “live organ-matching database” – a claim corroborated by Ethan Gutmann, a human rights investigator, who testified by written statement to the China Tribunal that “over the last 18 months, literally every Uyghur man, woman, and child – about 15 million people – have been blood and DNA tested, and that blood testing is compatible with tissue matching”.
In a recent interview, a Chinese woman identified as Ms Aili told the host of a Chinese language online news programme that Uyghur Muslims are “being slaughtered on demand”, recounting how she had witnessed 37 Saudi transplant recipients receive organs from “people of Xinjiang” in 2007.
Moreover, China is behaving in a way that suggests it has much to hide, given that evidence suggests that it is systematically “manipulating” and falsifying” its official organ transplant datasets. The BMC Medical Ethics journal has found “contradictory, implausible and anomalous data artifacts” in five provincial datasets, suggesting that China is attempting to hide its enterprise by misclassifying “non-voluntary” donors as “voluntary donors”.
what the papers don’t say
China is claiming in its official numbers that it is carrying out only 10,000 organ transplants per year, but scrutiny of data obtained from the country’s three largest hospitals suggests that the actual number falls somewhere in the range of 60,000 to 100,000, according to the authors, adding that whereas China claims roughly 100 hospitals are approved for organ transplant operations, they have “verified and confirmed 712 hospitals which carry out liver and kidney transplants”.
Both the Red Cross Society of China and Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting have questioned the authenticity of China’s officially released data, with the latter observing a sudden increase of more than 88,3000 registered organ donors within a six day period in December 2016 – a number that can only be explained by a large-scale, forced organ harvesting programme.
That China has moved from having a significant shortfall of organ donors to having the capacity to export live organs in just a few years suggests that the scale and scope of the programme is vast and sophisticated. The fact that China was able to perform the world’s first double lung transplant operation – one carried out at “breakneck speed from diagnosis to surgical intervention” – confirms the international community’s deepest fears regarding the welfare and fate of its political prisoners.
It is probable that executed Uyghur Muslim detainees are providing China with the capability to meet internal and external demand for organ transplantations – particularly at a time when the country is faced with the Coronavirus.