TORRANCE, Calif.— Dr. Eric J. Goldberg has been researching organ harvesting allegations since attending a conference on transplantation in Boston in 2006. He is the chief medical research director of a major international clinical research corporation.
Dr. Goldberg discussed and answered questions on Dec. 22 on the issues of organ harvesting and transplantation in China with Dr. Dana Churchill, the Southern California spokesperson for Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH). It is a non-profit founded by medical doctors to inform the medical community and the public with findings of unethical and illegal organ harvesting. The non-profit was the organizer of the discussion and press-conference.
Dr. Goldberg graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia. He practiced in Florida and was also a faculty member and associate professor. He specialized in liver and kidney transplantation for over 25 years and now directs clinical trials worldwide related to transplantation and anti-rejection drugs.
Dr. Goldberg's employer, a large pharmaceutical company in the British Isles, was given an invitation to conduct clinical research trials in China. After considering the current state of transplantation in China, not only did he refuse the request, but he also persuaded his employer to locate another country to conduct the research. He requested the name of his employer to remain anonymous as he was speaking for himself.
Dr. Goldberg stated that he has several issues with doing research in China. “This comes from my feeling as a transplant surgeon and clinical researcher. I became aware of some questionable practices in China while at a Transplant Conference in Boston in 2006.”
Organ Transplant Discussion
Dr. Goldberg discussed clinical trials for transplant drug testing and international protocol changes associated with doing these studies abroad.
“We're seeing a big change of where we test transplant drugs from North America to the East, including the Balkans, India, and China. Because the populations are enormous and the level of sophistication of transplant surgery has gone from the Dark Ages to a quite advanced level in the past several years, they are now on par with the West,” said Dr. Goldberg. “Also, we can test new drugs with fewer regulatory restrictions.”He proceeded to discuss that this can be problematic, since the requirements for testing are not as rigorous and could cause the test results to leave gaps that might not fully account for possible adverse effects when drugs enter the market.
Comparing transplant waiting times in various countries, Dr. Goldberg said, “Transplant tourism is this way in the USA, if you're on the transplant list for a liver, there is an 85 percent chance a patient on the waiting list will die [for lack of donor organs].” In China, for example, “I have every reason to believe that China is one of the very places where Americans can go for organs. Right now, someone on dialysis waiting for an organ will wait 3-5 years in the USA. If you contact China, the average waiting time is one week.”
Dr. Goldberg was asked how many bodies would be required to provide a donor bank in order to provide just one week or even a one month waiting period. “You would need thousands upon thousands of donor patients, more than 100,000 people. Liver waiting time in the U.S. is up to 7 years. In China, the waiting time is 1 month."
“The problem in China is that the number of organ transplants coming from death row inmates accounts for a very small proportion of the total transplants. The numbers just don't add up." [Referring to tens of thousands of people necessary to provide such a quick match for organs.]