Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ko demands apology for organ claims

‘DIRTY’ ATTACK:The Taipei mayor gave US author Ethan Gutmann 24 hours to give evidence that Ko was involved in organ harvesting in China or face a lawsuit

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday calls on US writer Ethan Gutmann to apologize for accusations made against him.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday rejected US author Ethan Gutmann’s accusation on Tuesday that he is a “liar” and that he was involved in live organ harvesting in China, vowing to file a lawsuit against Gutmann if he does not apologize.

Gutmann, interviewed Ko for his 2014 book The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to tts Dissident Problem, and wrote that Ko was aware that many of the organs transplanted in China came from Falun Gong (法輪功) members.

Gutmann on Tuesday told a news conference in Taipei that Ko was a potential broker for Taiwanese patients wanting to receive organ transplants in China, and that Ko, having taught extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) techniques to doctors in China, created a “perverse incentive” for the Chinese doctors to harvest live organs.

“I have lived in the US before, so I know that calling a person a liar in the US is a serious accusation, so I am very upset that Gutmann used the term to describe me in public,” Ko said yesterday morning. “I urge him to apologize or present evidence within 24 hours to explain why he made the accusation.”

Ko’s election campaign office said the deadline was 9:49pm yesterday, as Ko first posted the remark on Facebook at 9:49pm on Tuesday.

“If you [Gutmann] do not apologize, I will sue you. And I assure you that I will file a lawsuit, even if it is a cross-border lawsuit,” he said.

“Let me get this straight, I, Ko Wen-je, have never took patients to the Mainland to mediate for organ transplants,” Ko said, adding that while all election campaigns are characterized by attacks, they do not have to be so “dirty.”

Citing the Yu Chang Biologics Co (now known as TaiMed) controversy against then-presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in 2012, and allegations in 2014 that he transferred donations made to the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) into his personal account, he said the first case damaged half of Taiwan’s biotechnology industry and the latter caused many difficulties for the clinical medicine research community.

“Now ‘the Gutmann case’ is affecting the nation’s transplant and intensive care communities,” he said.

The ECMO system is used for temporarily supporting the functions of the heart and lungs, before they recover or the patient receives an organ transplant, Ko said.

Taiwan’s ECMO techniques received the National Quality Award, and the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization also gave NTUH’s ECMO team — which Ko led for many years — a “Center of Excellence” award, he said.

Ko went to China to teach ECMO techniques because they can save lives, he said, adding that he has taught them in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan and the US.

The ECMO system is an expensive high-end technology that is seldom used for organ transplants, and using the ECMO or conducting an organ transplant are both very complicated operations that cannot be completed by a physician alone, he said, adding that most doctors in the field know these facts too.

“The transplantation process includes preoperative evaluation, operation, postoperative care and follow-ups, but I was in charge of the intensive care unit [ICU], so my patients were mostly in a poor physical condition prior to their operations or had suffered postoperative complications,” Ko said, “Most of them could not even leave the ICU, so how could I possibly take them to China for a transplant?”

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