Bioethics News

China Still Harvesting Organs from Prisoners at a Massive Scale

By Conor Bryant

A new report claims that China is still engaged in the widespread and systematic harvesting of organs from prisoners, and says that people whose views conflict with the ruling Chinese Communist Party are being murdered for their organs.

Former Canadian lawmaker David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas, and journalist Ethan Gutmann claim there is a massive discrepancy between the official figures for the number of transplants carried out throughout the country and the publicly reported figures from hospitals across China. The total number of legal transplants per year is around 10,000. The report estimates the actual number may range from 60,000 to 100,000 transplants per year in Chinese hospitals.

The report also claims that the gap is made up of executed prisoners, many of them prisoners of conscience, locked up for their religious or political beliefs. The authors of the report mainly say imprisoned religious and ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, Tibetans, underground Christians, and practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement are among the victims. China remains to keep the number of people executed per year a secret.

China has always denied the allegations of harvesting organs from prisoners; however, in 2005, officials admitted the practice took place and promised for reform. Five years later, Huang Jiefu, director of the China Organ Donation Committee, told medical journal The Lancet that more than 90% of transplant organs still came from executed prisoners.

Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chungying said China has “strict laws and regulations on this issue … As for the testimony and the published report, I want to say that such stories about forced organ harvesting in China are imaginary and baseless – they don’t have any factual foundation.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.