I have been involved in investigating whether Falun Gong practitioners have been killed for their organs. Mr. Kilgour and I have written two reports and a book on the subject. I co-edited a second book with Dr. Torsten Trey in which Mr. Gutmann wrote an essay. There is a great deal of material.
I will say a few words about some of the evidence that led us to our conclusion. We had investigators make telephone calls to Chinese hospitals and pretend to be relatives of patients in need of transplants. The hospitals were asked whether they had organs of Falun Gong practitioners for sale on the basis that the Falun Gong exercise regime meant a Falun Gong practitioner and his or her organs would be healthy. We got admissions on tape, in transcriptions and translated from throughout China that the hospitals had Falun Gong organs for sale.
When we spoke with people who got out of prison and out of China, both Falun Gong and non-Falun Gong, they told us that Falun Gong practitioners were systematically blood tested and had their organs examined while the non-Falun Gong were not. This examination was not for any health benefit, as they were being tortured to recant. Such an examination is necessary for organ transplants, as blood types must be compatible.
We spoke with patients who went to China for transplants. They told us of secrecy and heavy military involvement. Transplants were handled quickly on order. They booked their trips far in advance and received heart, liver, kidney or lung transplants within a few days. Except in the case of kidney transplants, which a person can survive, this meant that people were being killed on order for their organs.
Another form of evidence that we considered was the numbers. After the US, China leads the world in terms of transplant volumes. Until recently, however, it did not have an organ donation system. Its current system only produces tiny numbers. From where were the organs coming? Eventually, the Chinese admitted that they were coming from prisoners who had been sentenced to death and executed, but they will not say how many people are sentenced to death and executed in China. In light of the facts that there is no national organ distribution system, people must be executed within seven days of their sentencing and the high rate of hepatitis in prisons, approximately 100,000 people would need to be sentenced to death and executed every year to supply the volume of transplants being performed. This is plainly not the case. It is not even close. Even the largest estimates put the figure at 5,000 or 6,000 executions per year. There is no plausible explanation for the sources of organs that can explain the discrepancy between volumes.
A fifth factor was the extreme cover-up in which the Chinese Government was involved. Not only has it never disclosed death penalty statistics, but it started destroying data as soon as we cited them. For example, when we started citing the aggregate volumes on the liver transplant registry, the Chinese Government took those data down. We started quoting hospital websites' advertisements about the prices of their organs, their speed and the money they were making on organs. The Government took those data down. We quoted Chinese doctors, but the Chinese Government put out video tapes denying what we had quoted them as saying even though their materials were still posted on Chinese websites.
This cover-up highlights a phenomenon. Whatever one thinks of our study, it does not fall to us to explain the sources of Chinese organs, but to the Chinese Government. This is the international standard of accountability, transparency and traceability. The Chinese Government does not conform to it.
The sixth and final reason for reaching our conclusion that I will mention at this meeting - our written materials contain many more reasons - is the absence of precautions that should be in place to prevent these types of abuse. The precautions were not present in China or anywhere else in the world. Transplant tourism was practically possible and not legally blocked. When we started our work, it was not even blocked by ethical standards. Mr. Kilgour and I, joined recently by Mr. Gutmann and others, have been urging parliamentarians and policy makers around the world to put in place mechanisms to prevent this sort of abuse from happening.