Huang Jiefu is one of China’s most prominent liver surgeons, and the main spokesperson for that country’s disreputable organ transplant industry. According to many medical professionals and human rights activists, Huang has innocent blood on his hands.
The 70-something-year-old Huang was the key Chinese official attending a Catholic church-backed summit on organ trafficking and transplant tourism held at the Vatican earlier this month
Huang’s controversial inclusion at the summit generated a great deal of opposition from those concerned about how China’s transplant industry procures its organs.
For the past decade, there have been credible and consistent reports that the Chinese state has been killing large numbers of prisoners of conscience — primarily Falun Gong practitioners, but also Tibetans, Uyghurs and house church Christians — for their organs.
Chinese officials routinely say they perform around 10,000 organ transplants per year, and they say, without providing evidence, their organ system is now supplied by voluntary organ donations. Huang says he is a reformer.
— DAFOH (@DAFOH_org) February 10, 2017
Before the Vatican summit, Dr. Zhiyuan Wang, M.D., the president of the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), wrote a letter Pope Francis where he described Huang as “one of the biggest butchers who has directly participated in forced organ harvesting.”
“From October 2001 to early 2013, Huang was vice minister in charge of organ transplantation in the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of National Health and Family Planning Commission,” wrote Zhiyuan in the letter to the pope.
“[Huang] helped the establishment of organ transplantation centers in many hospitals across China… He claimed he performed over 500 liver transplantations in 2012,” said the letter.
In his letter, Zhiyuan described the evidence that live organ harvesting as “clear and irrefutable,” and listed three examples:
(1) The explosive growth of China’s organ transplantations: the number of liver transplants in 2006 was more than 180 times of that of 1999, the year the CCP started to persecute Falun Gong. The number of hospitals that could perform organ transplants in 2006 was 20 times of that in 1999;
(2) Existence of massive living organ donor pools: as proved by the extremely short waiting periods for transplants (two weeks in China versus two to three years in the West); extremely high percentage of emergency transplants and multiple back-up organs for some transplant recipients; and
(3) A common phenomenon in China since 1999 is that many hospitals can conduct several, up to two dozens, kidney and liver transplant operations on the same day, or even at the same time.
A question of complicity
Similar concerns raised by WOIPFG about Huang were expressed in an editorial published by the influential British medical journal The BMJ on Feb.7, the day the summit at the Vatican began.
Co-authored by Professor Wendy Rogers, a clinical ethicist from Macquarie University in Australia, Dr. Jacob Lavee, a esteemed transplant surgeon in Israel and independent researcher Mathew Robertson, the editorial raised further concerns on how certain bodies in the West are engaging with China about the issue.
“The Transplantation Society’s former president Francis Delmonico acknowledged under oath at a recent U.S. Congressional hearing that he cannot verify claims about reform in China,” said the editorial.
“The main evidence for reform has simply been the public assertions of Huang Jiefu and other government officials,” the editorial went on to say.
“A policy of unconditional engagement with China’s transplant system risks making organisations such as the Transplantation Society and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences complicit in these crimes, as they provide a platform for Chinese doctors to share and celebrate their work,” it said.
“Given the nature and magnitude of the allegations against China, we suggest an alternative course of action.”
The summit occurred while the Vatican is also currently conducting secret negotiations with Chinese officials about the issue of bishop appointments in China, a point touched on in this video from China Uncensored:
Onus of proof
In June last year, David Kilgour, a former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), David Matas, a respected human rights lawyer, and investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, based in London, released a report titled Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update, where they found that 60,000 to 100,000 transplants are performed each year in China.
Not long after the report, a U.S. House of Representatives resolution was unanimously passed that urged the Chinese government to stop harvesting the organs of prisoners of conscience, and end the persecution against Falun Gong.
Medical advocacy group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) put out a statement saying the Chinese officials did not offer any evidence during the Vatican summit that denied claims that prisoners of conscience are being subjected to forced organ harvesting.
“Given the severity of the alleged crimes and that recent studies suggest that anywhere between 100,000 and 1 million prisoners of conscience have been killed for their organs in the past 17 years, demands for transparency and spot inspections are more than justified,” Dr. Torsten Trey, executive director of DAFOH, said in a statement on Feb. 14.
“The onus of proof is on Chinese authorities to prove otherwise,” he said.
DAFOH has said in the past that Huang himself has performed more than 500 liver transplants. The group called on the international medical and human rights communities to reject this latest attempt to whitewash the decades-old practice of forced organ harvesting occurring in China.
DAFOH also requested action to combat organ harvesting by the following measures:
China be asked to agree to an initial, temporary phase of independent scrutiny to allow verification of the announced reforms. This must include unannounced inspections of transplant facilities and military hospitals, interviews with donor relatives carried out by independent transplant and legal experts, and investigators under the auspices of the World Health Organization.
China be asked to provide clear, transparent, verifiable answers about the specifics of the law that allegedly ended forced organ harvesting on Jan. 1, 2015, and how this policy is enforced and monitored. The government should also provide evidence abolishing the 1984 provisions that permit the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners.
China be required to establish an open registry of organ donors and annual transplant data, including information on annual transplant numbers by individual transplant hospitals to meet the same regulations used in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Europe.
“I deplore anything to do with the illegal harvesting of organs… If it is found that China is still pursuing… https://t.co/RmILhEwbE6
— OrganHarvestingTruth (@OrganHarvesting) February 18, 2017
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