December 3, 2021

China responds to allegations of organ harvesting

Falun Gong protesters against organ harvesting in China 

BioEdge and many other publications have highlighted claims by the NGO Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) that the Chinese government permits involuntary organ donation by political and religious prisoners. The Chinese government has responded with indignation, denying all allegations. 

More stinging, perhaps, was a report published in June by UN human rights experts.

The experts said they have received credible information that detainees from ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities may be forcibly subjected to blood tests and organ examinations such as ultrasound and x-rays, without their informed consent, while other prisoners are not required to undergo such examinations. The results of the examinations are reportedly registered in a database of living organ sources that facilitates organ allocation.

“Forced organ harvesting in China appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations,” they said. “We are deeply concerned by reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief.

“According to the allegations received, the most common organs removed from the prisoners are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas and, less commonly, parts of livers. This form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists.”

The Chinese government has flatly denied all these allegations. In a recently published note, it said that the UN’s report “is based on false information, makes groundless accusations against China and is filled with malice and prejudice”. Its response is short on specifics about organ harvesting. Instead, it simply asserts that “China has a sound system of laws and regulations for the donation and transplantation of human organs. Human‐organ donation is governed by the principle that such donation is voluntary and non-remunerative; organ trading and involuntary organ harvesting have been criminalized.”