Mainland China's well known media Southern Weekly , published a front page article titled "China Puts A Stop on 'Organ Transplant Tourism'" on July 19, 2007.
The article reported on the recent restrictions imposed on organ transplants performed on foreigners by Chinese hospitals, and exposed the inside story behind these organ transplants in Mainland China, which are performed under the rule of the Communist Party.
A Very Profitable Business
Organ transplants skyrocketed after 1999 and hospitals reaped huge profits.
The Southern Weekly mentioned that "liver transplants increased at a shocking rate: in 1999 only 24 liver transplants were performed; in 2000, the number reached 78, and in 2003, 356 cases. In 2004, 507 liver transplants were performed, breaking the previous world's record held by the University of Pittsburg Organ Transplant Center in the United States.
Together with the 368 kidney transplants done in the same year, the transplant department in the Oriental Organ Transplant Center has become the largest organ transplant center in Asia. In 2005 and 2006, the figure for liver transplants alone exceeded 600 cases."
In summary, the liver transplant operations of this hospital began to increase rapidly after 1999. From the period 1999 until 2006, the hospital performed at least 2,000 liver transplants. There were no figures for transplants done in 2001 and 2002.
According to the Southern Weekly , "the dramatic increase in business brought huge profits to the Oriental Organ Transplant Center.
According to previous reports, liver organ transplants alone brought the center at least 100 million yuan (USD 13.2 million) in a year."
Source of Organs Unknown, Research Thesis Rejected
As to the source of the organs, Southern Weekly gives contradictory information in its report.
The article mentioned "however since the beginning of this year(2007), organ transplants for foreigners 'took a dramatic downturn.' At the second level office of the Oriental Organ Transplant Center, Zhu Zhijun(deputy director) appeared anxious. Since the Chinese lunar new year, half a year has gone by, yet the hospital reputed to be Asia's largest organ transplant center had only performed a total of 15 liver transplant operations, compared to 2006, when the hospital performed 600 liver transplants."
"Zhu Zhijun also claimed that the dramatic drop in operations was 'due to lack of organ supplies.' The organs used in the 15 cases of liver transplants done in this year came from live donors. That means they came from family members."
One must wonder how did the hospital manage to perform over 600 transplant operations in 2006? What was the source of those organs? With a half year already passed, there have been only 15 organ transplants from family member donors. Why the sudden change?
The report in Southern Weekly also mentioned that "despite the huge number of transplant operations performed, the clinical experience and research results in the area of liver transplants done in China has yet to appear in internationally reputed medical journals.
One of the main reasons for this is that the thesis writer cannot explain the source of the organs. 'The Transplant Society' once issued a three page document openly forbidding Chinese scholars from presenting theses or reports on organ transplants at the society's Congress."
The above report clearly states that the author of clinical experience reports in China cannot explain the source of organs. If it was from criminals sentenced to death, approved by family members of executed prisoners or from donors, why can't he explain the source of the organs? In July 2005 at a world liver transplant conference, deputy minister of the Ministry of Public Health, Huang Jiefu, admitted for the first time, that currently the majority of organs in China come from executed prisoners.
"He pointed out that organs were only removed from the dead prisoners after obtaining permission from the prisoner or his family members and was done in accordance with common medical principles. He also said that the Chinese government intends to encourage more family members and the public to donate organs."
If organs used in organ transplants come from executed prisoners and had the approval of the prisoner or his family members, and if it is in accordance with medical principles, why did the number of organ donors suddenly decrease dramatically in 2007?
Was it because of a drastic decrease in executed prisoners? Or did China abolish capital punishment? What about the 600 liver transplants performed in 2006 that supposedly came from live donors?
Another question arises: "How was it carried out? Were the organs removed first before executing the death sentence?" If that was the case, is this in accordance with medical principles?
Southern Weekly also unveiled the popularity of this lucrative business in China, it has become a common operation in the mainland, "There are over 600 hospitals in China and 1,700 doctors performing organ transplants. In comparison, there are only about 100 hospitals capable of performing liver organ transplants and not more than 200 able to perform kidney transplants in the United States."
The Southern Weekly article also exposed that the portion of live organ donors in China is less than 2 percent of the total, much lower than the 35 percent in the United States.
Noteworthy is the increased rate of China's organ transplants, which is more than triple that of the United States. Take kidney transplants as an example, from 1993 to 2002, the average annual increase in China was 14 percent, while in the United States it was only 4 percent.
One may wonder how could such a large number organ transplants depend on such a small group of live organ donors? There is one possibility — an organ market. Where are the organs coming from?
In the Kilgour-Matas Independent Investigation—which thoroughly explored and confirmed China's organ harvesting program, the authors clearly indicate that "the sharp increase of the number of organ transplants aligns with the time of the persecution of Falun Gong in China."
As we mentioned previously, the organ donor supply has sharply decreased in 2007, which could be a sign that the regime has started to eliminate evidence and tighten control over hospitals because of the exposure of the crime, and international pressure in 2006.
The Oriental Transplant Center is only the tip of the iceberg, over 1,700 doctors in about 600 hospitals in China were busy making money thru organ transplants during the past six years.