Deaths of Chinese Transplant Specialists Shine a Light on Forced Organ Harvesting

By Shawn Jiang
Shawn Jiang
Shawn Jiang
and Angela Bright
Angela Bright
Angela Bright
Angela Bright has written for The Epoch Times since 2019.
March 25, 2023Updated: March 25, 2023

At least eight organ transplant specialists in China died in 2023. Six were eminent physicians in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and several were suspected of involvement in forced organ harvesting. Their deaths highlight China’s burgeoning transplant industry, which is accused of using persecuted groups such as Falun Gong as living organ banks.

On March 7, He Jieqing, former director of the urology department of Jiangxi Provincial People’s Hospital and a CCP member, died in the hospital where she had worked at the age of 85.

He Jieqing was born in 1938, graduated from medical school in 1961 and was assigned to Jiangxi Hospital, where she worked in both general surgery and urology surgery, becoming the director of urology at the hospital in 1986. During her long career, she was the recipient of many awards, a member of the International Society of Urology, and a governing member of the Jiangxi Provincial Medical Association.

According to her official obituary, He Jieqing became the director of urology at Jiangxi Provincial People’s Hospital in 1986. In July 1994, she presided over the hospital’s first kidney allograft and supported the pioneering work of transplant surgeons Meng Dongliang and Li Xinchang.

Both Jiangxi Provincial People’s Hospital and He Jieqing were included on the list of hospitals and persons suspected of involvement in forced organ harvesting by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG).

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong practitioners stage a reenactment of organ harvesting from imprisoned practitioners in China, during a protest in Vienna on Oct. 1, 2018. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the WOIPFG report, Jiangxi Provincial People’s Hospital is a top-tier public hospital known for liver, kidney, pancreas, and small intestine transplants. The hospital has performed more than 600 kidney transplants, more than 100 liver transplants, and 500 keratoplasty operations. In 2006, it performed the province’s first combined liver-kidney transplant.  The hospital performs a large number of organ transplants: a report from China Organ Harvest Research Center suggests that its transplant department can perform up to eight transplants simultaneously.

CCP Organ Transplant Experts and High-Profile Members Die During COVID Outbreak

Since China’s recent COVID-19 outbreak began late last year, the deaths of high-ranking CCP members, as well as CCP-connected celebrities, experts, and scholars in various fields, have made headlines. Many of the prominent deaths come from the medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology fields.

Among these, the deaths of a number of organ transplant specialists are notable.

Zhang Xizeng, a professor and former director of the thoracic oncology department at Tianjin Medical University Cancer Hospital, died on Feb. 26 at the age of 90. Zhang pioneered the removal of malignant tumors from the sternum, as well as allogeneic hip transplantation.

On Feb. 8, Zhang Xiaobin, a CCP member and expert in urology and andrology, and a founder of the urology department of Hubei Provincial People’s Hospital, died of illness in Wuhan at the age of 79. As one of the founders of the hospital’s urology department, Zhang was involved in the world’s first testicular allograft in 1985 and the world’s first fetal donor adrenal gland transplant to treat Addison’s disease in 1987, according to his official obituary.

On Jan. 30, Li Jieshou, an “excellent member of the CCP,” according to his official obituary, died in Nanjing at the age of 98. Li was a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, on the Faculty of the Chinese Academy of Medical Science, and former Vice President of Nanjing General Hospital of the Nanjing Military Command.

Li and the Nanjing General Hospital of the Nanjing Military Region, where he worked, have been placed on the WOIPFG’s tracking list for their suspected involvement in forced organ harvesting. Li was chief of the Key Laboratory of Organ Transplantation of the People’s Liberation Army. He was the first person to initiate “Asian small intestine allotransplantation.” In April 2003, he performed the first human liver and hepato-intestinal allotransplantation in Asia.

Epoch Times Photo
Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas testifies at a U.S. Congressional hearing on forced organ harvesting, in this file photo. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

On Jan. 29, Ren Jishuquan, a hematologist, pioneer of haploid hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in China, former director and chief physician of the hematology department of China’s Air Force General Hospital, died in Beijing at the age of 86. Ren has been involved in hematological oncology and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and was awarded a commendation by the then-CCP leader Hu Jintao in 2005. His obituary notes that he continued to see patients despite the COVID-19 epidemic and his advanced age.

On Jan. 20, Zhang Yangde, a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at Central South University and a CCP member, died at the age of 68. In an unusual move, his official obituary disclosed that he died of complications from COVID-19, although the report was quickly suppressed.

The Chinese regime has a policy of covering up COVID deaths and punishes officials who report them.

Forced Organ Harvesting

Zhang was suspected of participating in forced kidney transplantation and was tracked by WOIPFG.

On Jan. 8, Yang Chenyuan, a pioneering heart surgeon, died at the age of 86. In 1970, Yang and two other professors completed the first extracorporeal circulation open-heart surgery at Union Medical College Hospital, in Wuhan. In the 1990s, Yang was the first to use the Cabral technique to perform aortic dissection aneurysm resection in China, and also the first to perform orthotopic heart transplantation in central and southern China.

In 1994, Yang presided over the first heart transplant operation at Wuhan Union Medical College Hospital—one of the first successful heart transplants in China.

Yang’s honors from the CCP included the titles of “Model Communist,” “Outstanding CCP Member” and a medal for “50 years of glorious service to the party.”

On Jan. 4, Ren Zhenyuan, a CCP member and former president of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, died at the age of 92.  Ren was appointed President of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital in 1984. The official obituary notes that he performed his first successful kidney transplant in 1991.

The unusual longevity of high-ranking CCP cadres and members of China’s medical and scientific community is known to be linked to their ready access to organ transplants.

Ren’s death is significant because, according to a 2021 WOIPFG report, Beijing Chaoyang Hospital is the organ transplant center of Beijing. According to the WOIPFG investigation, the hospital’s liver transplant director and doctors admit to using Falun Gong practitioners as donors.

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Wang Zhiyuan, president of WOIPFG, speaking in Berlin on Oct. 28, 2016. (Jason Wang/Epoch Times)

Personnel Lists

In September 2014, WOIPFG released a report announcing a list of 1,814 medical personnel suspected of participating in the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners’ organs, across 228 hospitals in China.

According to the report, after 2000, a large number of hospitals across China became involved in organ harvesting and organ transplantation, with even some small hospitals without sufficient qualifications getting into the organ transplant business.The organ transplant boom coincided with the CCP’s mass extermination of Falun Gong practitioners.

In October 2014, WOIPFG released a second list of 2,108 medical personnel in 100 hospitals. The second list focused on medical personnel involved in organ removal or transplantation at China’s military and armed police hospitals.

The report stated that the CCP’s system of military and police hospitals are the core institutions that carry out former CCP leader Jiang Zemin’s order to harvest organs for transplant from Falun Gong practitioners. The report details the existence of a large living organ bank in China— involuntary organ “donors” who are killed in the process of organ harvesting. It indicates that the CCP’s military and police are likely to be central in the detention and deployment of large living donor populations.

The investigation revealed that after the CCP began its persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, a large number of military and police hospitals, along with other hospitals across China, began organ transplant programs or stepped up existing transplant programs.

The massive organ transplant increase occurred as Falun Gong practitioners began to be abducted and detained, under Jiang’s order.

In 2006, Canadian human rights activists David Kilgour and David Matas released the Kilgour-Matas report, which stated that “the source of 41,500 transplants for the six-year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained” and alleged “large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners.”

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient Chinese spiritual practice consisting of simple, slow-moving meditation exercises and teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It grew in popularity during the 1990s, with 70 million to 100 million adherents in China by the end of the decade, according to official estimates at the time.

Feeling threatened by its popularity, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a systematic elimination campaign in July 1999. Since then, millions have been detained inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities, with hundreds of thousands tortured while incarcerated, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.