Foreign medical and legal specialists yesterday discussed legislative developments in their home countries on regulating organ transplants abroad and urged the Taiwanese government to recognize the seriousness of the organ-harvesting crimes perpetrated in China and to legislate against organ transplants using illicit or unknown organ sources.
In a round-table discussion organized by the Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan, doctors and human rights advocates invited by the Taiwan International Care Association for Organ Transplants called any organ transplant done at the expense of another person’s life and “organ harvesting” undertaken without the consent of the organ providers “a crime against humanity.”
In the context of the growing global demand for organ transplants in recent years, illegal trafficking and trade of human organs and transplant tourism have raised serious concerns and caused raging controversies.
Among these issues, unethical organ-harvesting practices in China are a major problem that requires wider awareness and attention, the experts said.
This is especially true for Taiwanese, the association said, adding that data from the Department of Health showed that more than 88 percent, or 1,754, of Taiwanese patients who underwent organ transplants went to China for their operations between 2000 and 2011.
Not only do organs that come from questionable origins expose patients in Chinese hospitals to medical and legal risks, they might also have come from prisoners of conscience and executed prisoners, putting the patients in an ethical bind, the care association said.
Killed for Organs: China’s Secret State Transplant Business, a documentary about organ harvesting practices in China, was presented at the beginning of the meeting.
Jianchao Xu (徐建超), director for medical affairs with Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, said there was “an exponential increase [in organ transplants] in China in the first four years of the 1999-2007 period, and after that the number plateaued.”
The Chinese government criminalized Falun Gong and has incarcerated its practitioners since 1999, he said.
David Kilgour, former Canadian secretary of state for the Asia-Pacific and co-author of Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, referred to a case of a male Taiwanese patient in the book, saying that the patient went through eight antibody cross-matching tests before he finally found a matching pair.
According to the book, the Taiwanese national was aware of the fact that the organ had been taken from an unwilling executed prisoner.
Participants in the discussion expressed the hope that revealing the atrocities perpetrated in China can raise awareness among Taiwanese and that legislation would be passed to prevent unethical organ transplants abroad in the near future.