How Have International Transplant Professionals Responded to Organ Harvesting in China?

Doctors in an operating room.
As part of his talk, Kilgour discussed how international transplant professionals have dealt with the issue [of organ harvesting] and how their responses differ. (Image: via Pixabay)

David Kilgour faced skepticism from various quarters when he first co-authored one of several reports that said prisoners of conscience were being killed on demand for organ harvesting in China.

Twelve years from the release of his first report in 2006, the former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) and other independent researchers have gone on to solidify their findings and affect broad change. A U.S. House of Representatives resolution condemned the Chinese state’s harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience in 2016 and a similar resolution passed by the European Parliament in 2013 are but two examples.

Recently, Kilgour and others spoke at a second roundtable meeting at Westminster on how the British government can help prevent what is occurring.

As part of his talk, Kilgour discussed how international transplant professionals have dealt with the issue and how their responses differ.

Experts speak at UK roundtable on forced organ harvesting.
Experts speak at UK roundtable on forced organ harvesting at Westminster. (Image: via

He told the meeting — hosted by Jim Shannon MP and Fiona Bruce MP — that the stance of the global transplantation profession can currently be categorized into three groups.

The first group, he said, are those professionals who are aware of what is going on.

“The aware [those] who have read the research and realize that what is going on in China with transplantations is mass killing of innocents and cover up,” said Kilgour. “They react accordingly, distancing themselves from the Chinese transplant profession and encouraging others to do likewise.”

The second group is those who are naïve.

“The naïve do not consider the research and argue that doing so falls outside their area of responsibility,” he said. “They hear research conclusions on the one hand and Party-state propaganda on the other and draw no conclusions.”

Then there are those — the foolish — who have accepted the Party line.

“The foolish buy Chinese Party-state propaganda. They parrot its line that the research demonstrating mass killing of innocents is based on rumor,” Kilgour said. “They echo the Party line that the research is unverifiable, though it is both verifiable and verified. They repeat its claim that abuses are in the past, when they are not.”

These, he said, are also professionals who should know better, and he was especially critical of the global transplant leadership.

“The four organizations (World Health Organization, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, The Transplantation Society, and the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group) are pleased that the Party says what they want to hear,” he said.

This all flies in the face of hard evidence and weak denials from Chinese officials.

“Beijing has no credible answers to the work of independent researchers who have demonstrated the mass killings of innocents. Given the scale of the transplantation industry in China, it is impossible to deny this research in any credible manner,” Kilgour said.

“Party propaganda, denying official data, pretending what is there is not there can persuade only the gullible or the willfully blind,” he said. “One can only hope that a willingness to confront the truth about China will prevail generally in the transplantation profession before many more innocents are killed for their organs.”

Organ harvesting in China has proven to be worse than thought

Also speaking at the meeting was U.S. investigative reporter Ethan Gutmann, who coauthored a report in 2016 with Kilgour and another Canadian — human rights lawyer David Matas. Their 817-page report titled Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update, found that organ harvesting in China is much worse than previously thought. Instead of 10,000 organ transplants being done per year as quoted by Chinese officials, the new report says that around 60,000 to 100,000 transplants are performed each year in China.

The main target for organ harvesting, the report said, is Chinese who adhere to the meditation practice of Falun Gong, people who are being persecuted by the communist authorities for their peaceful beliefs. Other prisoners of conscience also targeted and killed for their organs — but in relatively smaller numbers — are Tibetans, Uyghurs, and house Christians.

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  • James Burke

    What keeps the world ticking? James is always looking for the answer and the latest news from around the globe. When he's not behind his computer, he's basking in the Thailand sun, or dreaming of the southern hemisphere, where he grew up in rural Australia.