Australian transplant surgeons have confirmed that organs from executed prisoners are used for transplants in China and have publicly condemned the practice.
Several surgeons from the heart, lung, liver and kidney transplant units in Brisbane told The Epoch Times, it was common knowledge that there was virtually no waiting list in China because organs came from prisoners on death row.
"The intended recipient is actively matched with the donor while the donor is still alive," one doctor said, adding that the practice "is abhorrent to our way of life."
Spokesperson for The Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ), Professor Peter Macdonald, said their members were unreservedly "against the use of organs and tissues from executed prisoners for the purposes of therapeutic transplantation."
The statement from TSANZ is in line with the British and International Transplantation Societies, who recently issued public statements condemning the Chinese organ trade.
Professor Macdonald, who is joint head of the transplant programme at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, said he had no specific knowledge of the practice in China other than what he had been told by colleagues, but that he, and TSANZ members, were united in their opposition because "it is an unethical practice."
Professor Steven Lynch, Director of the Liver Transplant Unit at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, said there was "No doubt that there are huge numbers of executed prisoners being organ donors."
Professor Lynch explained that Princess Alexandra Hospital has a training facility for international transplant surgeons and that, over the years, he had received around 60 applications from Chinese students.
"Whenever we had a request [from China for transplant training] the standard reply was that you have to come self funded, you have to come with a letter from your hospital and the equivalent of the local premier or provincial leader, to say that none of the skills you would learn would be used to transplant organs from executed prisoners.
"I think it was only three of those who could provide that reassurance and the rest of them, I never heard another word."
Professor Lynch said it was not until he was a guest lecturer at the Tianjin transplant hospital in China that he fully understood why.
"I asked them what proportion of the donors are executed compared to the brain dead and they said it was illegal to use brain dead donors in China, so virtually all of them are executed prisoners."
While the Chinese communist regime tells Western medical authorities that all executed prisoners have signed consent forms, Professor Lynch said there was never any mention of documentation showing informed consent from the medical staff at Tianjin Hospital.
"It is an ethical problem. When it is run by the state it becomes like 'the ultimate tax.' Once dead, the body is not yours to give but the states to decide."
Professor Lynch said he had given a lot of thought to the issue and felt that the fault lay with the Chinese communist regime rather than the doctors.
"The problems lie in the ethical practices of the Chinese Government rather than the doctors who are working very hard, legally, within the government requirements."
Professor George Javorsky, who runs the heart transplantation unit at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, also condemned the practice saying it was "horrific" to consider that prisoners of any sort, let alone those who may be there for their spiritual or political beliefs, would be used as donors against their will.
Professor Javorsky wondered why, after so many years, the organ trade in China was suddenly in the public eye.
Apart from China's growing economic power, John Deller, President of the New South Wales Falun Dafa Association, says he believes it is because thousands of Falun Gong practitioners held in detention throughout China have been executed for their organs.
Before the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999, there were an estimated 70-100 million Chinese practising the spiritual discipline which involves Tai Chi-like exercises, meditation and adherence to moral principles.
Mr. Deller explained that after the persecution began, practitioners were forced from their homes, their families and their businesses and thrown into labour camps.
Although information about what goes on in China is difficult to obtain, Mr. Deller said that through the Chinese Falun Gong community in Australia, they know that thousands of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners have disappeared.
"It is very hard to verify just how many practitioners have been detained," Mr. Deller said. "The figures can vary from anywhere between 200,000 to 2 million."
"What concerns us is an amazing number of practitioners who are still hidden away and who are not necessarily in the known labour camps.
"There are other camps that have been set up, based on the information we have received, and it is clear that the number of operations for organ transplants from websites and third parties far exceed the numbers of executed prisoners."
Amnesty International estimates there were 1,770 executions in China last year but add that figures were based on "public reports" and that "official national statistics on the application of the death penalty remain classified" in China.
A report in The Sydney Morning Herald indicated that the Chinese government claims around 20,000 kidney transplants are conducted in China annually. However these figures pertain to domestic transplants only and do not include operations for foreigners, which implies that there are many more transplants occurring.
Certainly there seems to be no shortage of organs available. The Internet highlights many English language websites touting for foreigners to visit China for organ transplants.
One site for the China International Transplantation Network Assistance Centre starts its spiel with the line "Viscera providers can be found immediately" and claims "it is more safe and reliable here than in other countries, where the organ is not from a living donor."
Mr. Deller said the Falun Gong community had been active worldwide to draw attention to the flourishing organ trade in China.
"Our concern is that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are being kept there as organ banks.
"It is shocking information, but that is what we believe is happening, and really hope that those who are concerned about human rights will expose these things and go into China to investigate."