Foreigners who venture to China to receive life-saving organ transplants may not know that they’re feeding a “grotesque commerce” involving the large-scale murder of innocent prisoners of conscience.
That’s according to former Canadian MP David Kilgour, co-author of “Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China,” who spoke at a July 28 webinar hosted by the Anticommunism Action Team (ACAT).
In a hypothetical example that Kilgour gave, a critically ill patient in New York might reach out to an organ broker to book a transplant, then find himself being flown to Shanghai. Someone takes his blood, and within a short time, a donor with a matching blood type is found and the patient is told that he’ll soon receive a new vital organ from a “voluntary donor.”
Unbeknownst to the patient, chances are that the organ has come from a prisoner of conscience who has suffered inhumane treatment under the Chinese communist regime.
“Among about 200 countries today, there’s only one, the People’s Republic of China, where the organ harvesting is run by the government in the state,” Kilgour said. “The system is run by the government for the benefit of the government and the people who do the operations.”
China’s persecution of prisoners of conscience is driving its industrial-scale operation involving hundreds of hospitals to supply forcibly harvested organs to the transplant market. Kilgour said that this “grotesque commerce” must end, and he said the U.S. government and all other responsible governments must take action.
“If we had other democracies show more commitment to our core values, this despicable commerce … would end, I believe, more quickly,” Kilgour said.
He offered some suggestions, including the application of Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials responsible for organ harvesting.
“Any deal with China on any matter must include an insistence that the barbaric practice is stopped immediately, coupled with a mechanism whereby such stoppages can be verified,” Kilgour said.
For decades, the Chinese regime sourced organs from executed prisoners before it announced that such practices would end in January 2015. Now Beijing claims it relies on a system of voluntary donations for the country’s organ transplantation.
However, a London-based people’s tribunal refuted the CCP’s claim, in a 2019 report. It concluded that the stated-sanctioned practice of forced organ harvesting was happening on a “significant scale” in China, with Falun Gong practitioners being the main source of organs.
Adherents of Falun Gong, a self-cultivation practice involving moral teachings and gentle meditative exercises, have been the targets of persecution by the Chinese regime since 1999. Since then, millions of Falun Gong adherents have been held in prisons, labor camps, psychiatric hospitals, and other detention facilities in China.
Jennifer Zeng—a Falun Gong adherent, a YouTube host, and a contributor to The Epoch Times—also spoke at the webinar. She described how she was nearly a victim of China’s organ harvesting while she was detained in a labor camp in the early 2000s because of her beliefs.
Zeng recalled that she and other Falun Gong adherents were subjected to repeated physical check-ups, including X-rays and blood tests. She said she never heard back about the test results, and at the time, she questioned all the money and effort going into the examinations.
It was only after 2006, the year when allegations of forced organ harvesting from detained Falun Gong adherents first emerged, that she realized the physical examinations were done to build a live organ database, and that she had “narrowly escaped” becoming an organ harvesting victim.
Zeng speculated that her organs weren’t harvested because she told doctors during her imprisonment that she had hepatitis C, which would have made her unfit to be an organ donor. She fled China in 2001 for Australia, and she now lives in the United States.
ACAT founder Chris Wright said at the webinar that people can take actions to “ensure that the United States is combative and not complicit in the heinous practice of forced organ harvesting.”
One such action is signing an online petition calling on Congress to swiftly approve legislation that combats forced organ harvesting and human trafficking. Two bills with such intent were introduced in March.
If approved, the legislation would authorize the U.S. government to deny or revoke passports for people who engage in the illegal purchase of organs. It would also prohibit the U.S. export of organ transplant surgery devices to foreign entities associated with the crime.
“They’re looking for more co-sponsors for the bills in the House and the Senate,” Wright said.
The Senate bill (S.602) was introduced by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), while the House bill (H.R.1592) was introduced by Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and is now co-sponsored by 17 Republicans and two Democrats.
“So talk to your representative about co-sponsorship,” Wright said.
Eva Fu contributed to this report.