The Red Cross in China, whose job it is to facilitate organ transplants, is sometimes selective about which hospitals it will arrange transplantations for: according to a recent investigative report, the Red Cross will happily help out hospitals that pay a hefty fee, but those that refuse to pay are shut out of the system.
The piece, published on Monday in Beijing News, cited a staff member at a Guangzhou Province hospital, who said the Red Cross would charge an average of 100,000 yuan ($16,315 dollars) per transplantation and claimed the money was for providing aid to the donors. The Chinese Red Cross, officially called the Red Cross Society of China, operates under the aegis of the Chinese regime and often does not comply with international standards.
A staff worker at the Guangzhou General Military Hospital, Yao Lin, also told the Beijing News that an organ donation coordinator at the Shenzhen City Red Cross would usually notify her when a donor is near their death, so that an organ transplant operation can be arranged, but since the hospital stopped providing funds to the city’s Red Cross, the coordinator has not provided any new information. Yao also said the Red Cross never explained how the funds were going to be used.
The Beijing News report said local Red Cross organizations possess the bulk of organ donor information and thus can charge large sums for arranging organ transplantations.
But voluntary organ donation is very rare in China. Since the state’s Ministry of Health launched a pilot program in March 2010 to encourage organ donation across 19 provinces, less than one millionth of the Chinese population have donated, according to the Beijing News. The China Human Organ Donation Management Center, established by the Chinese Red Cross in January this year, estimates that 2,250 cases of organ donation were completed since the pilot program started until this May.
Meanwhile, a report by Chinese newspaper Dahe Daily stated that about 1.5 million patients in China are in need of organ transplants each year, but only 13,000 receive them. Given the miniscule number of people who donate their organs, international groups have questioned the source of the transplanted organs.
Former deputy health minister Huang Jiefu had admitted that organs were taken from executed prisoners for transplantation. But experts say that the number of executed prisoners in China is far below the number of transplants performed each year. Researchers suggest the mostly likely source of organs are the many prisoners of conscience held within China’s jails, most of whom are adherents of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice persecuted by the Chinese regime since 1999.
Researchers have settled on the working estimate of around 65,000 practitioners having been killed for their organs, though the number is difficult to pin down for lack of complete data.
Research by Ariel Tian. Translation by Rebecca Chen and Amy Lien.