Sunday, February 11, 2007


When dead is not dead

“At the site, the execution commander gave the order, “Go!,” and the prisoner was shot to the ground. Either because the executioner was nervous, aimed poorly, or intentionally misfired to keep the organs intact, the prisoner had not yet died, but instead lay convulsing on the ground. We were ordered to take him to the ambulance anyway where urologists Wang Zhifu, Zhao Qingling and Liu Qiyou extracted his kidneys quickly and precisely. When they finished, the prisoner was still breathing and his heart continued to beat. The execution commander asked if they might fire a second shot to finish him off, to which the county court staff replied, “Save that shot. With both kidneys out, there is no way he can survive.” The urologists rushed back to the hospital with the kidneys, the county staff and executioner left the scene, and eventually the paramilitary policemen disappeared as well. We burn surgeons remained inside the ambulance to harvest the skin. We could hear people outside the ambulance, and fearing it was the victim’s family who might force their way inside, we left our job half-done, and the half-dead corpse was thrown in a plastic bag onto the flatbed of the crematorium truck. As we left in the ambulance, we were pelted by stones from behind.”
This was the sworn testimony of Wang Guoqi, a former mainland doctor, given before the subcommittee on international operations and human rights of the US House of Representatives, June 2001.
The testimony shocked the world and was vehemently denied by official sources who claimed that any prisoner who surrendered his organs had done so with consent. Dr Wang was branded a liar.
But recent revelations have added strength to his harrowing account of the execution of a 30-year-old farmer that took place in October 1995.
Professior Chen Zhonghua head of the Tongji Hospital’s Institute of Transplantation, recently admitted that organs used in the thousands of transplants performed on the mainland each year, come from executed prisoners. He stated that the government had been using the organs of prisoners for years to perfect their techniques: “All the organs were acquired free of charge then and nobody ever thought of any personal benefit. On the contrary, we were excited to be part of the lofty drive for a bright future of China’s medical system,” he said.
He also revealed that out of the thousands of transplants that had taken place since 2000 he knew of less than 20 cases in which the donor had given permission.
But perhaps most chilling of all, he asked for a clear definition of the term “brain dead”.
Dr Wang was a specialist in the burn victims unit at the Paramilitary Police Tianjin General Brigade Hospital in Tianjin. According to his testimony his work involved removing skin and corneas from the corpses of over one hundred executed prisoners.
This particular man was not yet dead before his kidneys were removed. In fact he was still alive when Dr Wang attempted to harvest the skin from his torso, something that usually took his team 10 – 20 minutes.
He told writers for German weekly Stern that as he used his scalpel to slice open the man from the hips to the shoulders in order to remove the skin from the torso, blood squirted into the incision. He said the kidneys of the prisoner were whisked away for transplant, one for a party official.
Now it seems, organ transplants, like so many industries on the mainland, are becoming big business. Only, in this industry, the raw materials are human beings. And it seems China has a glut of prisoners on the production line.
With the big transplant hospitals paying out thousands to officials to have dibs on fresh organs the justice system is sidelined. Executions happen when the hospitals are ready, donors culled from the herd of wretched human flotsam viewed as garbage to be recycled.
The implications are the stuff of nightmares.
And as the industry grows along with the potential for bringing in high paying, desperate, overseas patients the potential for abuse multiplies.
China’s justice system is notoriously poor, and along with its appalling human rights record it would seem many of the prisoners are not hardened criminals as many would like to believe.
The prisoner Dr Wang skinned alive was convicted of killing his friend during a fight. This is not something likely to garner the death penalty in a western country. The liberal use of capital punishment concerns human rights activists with some saying the only crime some executed prisoners committed was to belong to the Falun Gong.
In an article last month the Epoch Times revealed that Falun Gong practitioners, detained on the mainland were being tortured to death, their organs destined for transplant. “Informants revealed that doctors of the Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Baiyun District, Guangzhou City openly “directed” thugs who torture Falun Gong practitioners, ”Don't beat them [at the] waist, the kidneys can be used”.”
An insider told The Epoch Times that the doctors and merchants involved in the purchases of Falun Gong practitioners' organs were told that the organs were from Falun Gong practitioners who "developed insanity from the practice and died" or "became evil after practicing and murdered other people, and therefore were sentenced to death and shot by the authorities."
People from all over the world, desperate for a life saving organ transplant find themselves on a long waiting list at home where they hope a donor will become available in time. No such wait in China, if the promises of the China International Organ Transplant are to be believed. According to their website they can provide a kidney within two weeks – although they do not guarantee a perfect match.
On the surface, using the organs of executed prisoners may seem like a logical solution to the problem of organ shortage. But, medical professionals warn, it is open to the potential of abuse on a level not seen since the Nazi death camps.
Briton, Dr David Nicholl, consultant physician and human rights activist, commented “These allegations are akin to what happened at Auschwitz with experimentation on inmates, although the practice in China, if true, could be much more lucrative. At current rates, with at least 3,400 prisoners executed per year according to Amnesty International, this translates into a potential market of over £170 million per year, just for the kidneys
alone, this figure does not include the potential revenues for corneas, pancreas, hearts and livers.”
The Associated Press has reported that the true number of transplants carried out each year is not known, but new regulations in the pipeline will require written permission from the donor for organs to be used.
“It is a complete fabrication, a lie or slander to say that China forcibly takes organs from the people convicted of the death penalty for the purpose of transplanting them,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters last year.
And on the flip side, it may not only be the donors who are suffering. Both Japan and Malaysia have reported several transplant patients dying after they received transplants on the mainland. Their deaths were due to several factors such as infections or their unsuitability as transplant candidates.
The new regulations hope to address that issue. They forbid the buying or selling of organs and demand that written permission is given by the donor. Donors, they say, will have a right to refuse.
In the west the debate rages as a shortage of willing donors means patients in dire need of a transplant are put on a long waiting list and the life saving organ may never materialise.
One solution raised in Kidney International by American physicians is that people be allowed to sell their kidneys for a fair market price. The belief that human beings are owners of their own bodies and therefore should be allowed to sell their own organs – as long as this poses no threat to their lives – is one way to approach the problem.
But until a similar system reaches the mainland activists remain believe the system falls far short of protecting both donors and recipients.
“Given that the Chinese government has steadfastly refused to give precise figures about the number of people executed, in defiance of international treaties,” says Dr Nicholl, “their instance that they have now banned this practice has to be taken with a healthy degree of scepticism given the lack of regulation to date.”
Oh my fucking gawd
er...I know I am stupid for asking but do you believe you must write this kind of thing when you are living there?
It needs to be brought to world attention.
er...I know I am stupid for asking but do you believe you must write this kind of thing when you are living there?

Inkonkoni said...
It needs to be brought to world attention.

Pretty risky if one considers how many bloggers have been jailed in China.
This is true, but I live in Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region and does not fall under the direct security laws of the mainland.

The only Communist security presence in HK is the PLA base. In any case, the vague laws used to muzzle dissent in the mainland, such as those prohibiting "counter-revolutionary activities" and " disturbing state security" do not exist in HK, which is a seperate legal entity.

@ Everybody:

Sooo..Are you donating your organs?
I'm leaving my body to science... fiction
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