Several provinces and cities in China have released official guideline prices for human vital organs, such as livers, kidneys, and hearts, following a notice issued by central authorities on fees and financial management measures for securing organs for transplant.
According to medical experts familiar with China’s organ transplant market, the actions indicate that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is attempting to normalize the country’s less-than-transparent organ transplant system as it continues to face pressure to disclose its sourcing of transplant organs.
In a July notice, the CCP ordered provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions to set their own rates for human organs, effective Sept. 1.
In Henan Province, for example, six related departments, including the Health Commission, the Department of Finance, and the Market Supervision Administration, jointly issued “standard rates for donated organs.”
According to the list, organs for transplant include livers, priced at 260,000 yuan ($40,700), kidneys at 160,000 yuan ($25,000), hearts at 100,000 yuan ($15,600), lungs at 80,000 yuan ($12,500), corneas at 10,000 yuan ($1,600), pancreas at 50,000 yuan ($7,800), small intestines at 50,000 yuan, and others.
Price Tags for Human Organs
Dr. Wayne Shih-wei Huang, a surgeon and director at the IRCAD Taiwan, Asia’s largest training center for minimally invasive surgery, said the CCP is hoping to whitewash its transplant abuses by putting a price tag on human organs.
In the organ prices listed by province officials, a heart is much cheaper than a kidney, which makes no sense in terms of the medical cost, Huang told The Epoch Times. The cost of obtaining a heart should be higher than that of a kidney, since the heart must be extracted, appropriately stored, and transported within hours, he said.
Huang believes that the pricing of organs is instead a reflection of market value and demand.
In addition, both Hubei and Henan provinces listed different prices for organs for children and adults. The price in Henan Province is 100,000 yuan ($15,600) for a child’s liver, less than half of the 260,000 yuan ($41,000) for an adult. The prices for single and double kidneys for children are also lower than those for adults by 60,000 yuan ($9,400) and 80,000 yuan ($12,500), respectively.
Dr. Alex Chih-Yu Chen, medical director of Novartis Japan, told The Epoch Times that in terms of medical costs, organ supply and transplants for children are more difficult and should be more expensive than for adults.
Questionable Donation Figures
The CCP’s organ transplant system lacks transparency, Huang said.
“The CCP cannot make its organ transplant system as transparent as that of Western countries,” but it must have a system on the surface for others to see, he said.
The Red Cross Society of China, which is under the control of Beijing, is one of the organizations that documents organ donations and releases data to the national database. It’s not associated with the International Committee of the Red Cross. It said that in China, “organ donation is voluntary and free,” according to its website.
Hamid Sabi—an independent counsel on the London-based China Tribunal, which found that forced organ harvesting had taken place “on a significant scale” in China—told a press conference in Belgium on Oct. 27 that the Chinese authorities have used testimony from China’s Red Cross to counter pressure from Europe, the United States, and other countries to provide transparency on its organ donation program.
But the Red Cross Society of China will certify whatever the CCP authorities demand of it, Sabi said.
As for the CCP’s official organ donor database, China’s claims of being able to obtain 2.8 organs per donor—which is 180 times higher than what is achievable by donation systems in Europe and the United States—would still fall far short of providing for the 10,000 transplants officially recorded per year, Sabi said.
Many experts also estimate that the actual number of transplants being conducted in China is magnitudes higher than the official figures.
A June 2016 report by David Kilgour, former Canadian secretary of state for the Asia-Pacific; David Matas, a human rights lawyer; and Ethan Guttmann, a senior American investigative journalist, estimated that China could be performing between 60,000 to 100,000 transplants per year. Many indicators point to the main source of these organs being Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.
Falun Gong is a spiritual meditation practice with three core tenets, truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It was estimated to have 70 million to 100 million adherents by 1999, when Beijing deemed it a threat and ordered a persecution campaign against it.
Reports from the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) indicate that since the CCP began persecuting Falun Gong, imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners have become a large bank of living human organs for transplants in China.
The WOIPFG has searched for and analyzed hundreds of thousands of public media reports, papers, and databases from across 891 transplant hospitals and 9,515 transplant surgeons in China over the past 15 years, and found that, between 2000 and 2006, the number of organ transplants being conducted in China experienced exponential growth.
During the period from 2000 to 2008, Gutmann estimates that between 450,000 to 1 million Falun Gong practitioners were detained in any single year.
William Wang contributed to this report.