By Nicole Hau and Cathy He
Evidence of large-scale forced organ harvesting has cast a shadow on China’s organ transplant system for more than a decade.
Now an internal document analyzing organ allocation and transplant data in one Chinese province has revealed systemic reporting abuses by hospitals. The abuses throw serious doubt on the credibility of China’s official organ registration system, which may further point to state-sanctioned organ extraction from prisoners against their will, according to an expert’s analysis of the report findings.
The report, obtained from a trusted source, was compiled by the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS), a body set up by the National Health Commission (NHC) in 2011 to register and allocate organs. Under this regime, organs registered in COTRS are matched and allocated to patients in need.
It revealed that from Jan. 1, 2015 to April 13, 2018, nationally 3,130 organs were registered in COTRS after the transplant had taken place.
“This is really ridiculous,” Dr. Torsten Trey, executive director of medical ethics advocacy group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, said in an email. This large number of organs being entered into COTRS after transplant indicates “systematic malpractice,” he added.
Since 2015, the Chinese regime has claimed that organs for transplant surgery have come from only voluntary donors. In an ordinary organ allocation program, potential organ donors should be reported to the allocation system (in this case COTRS), which then matches the organs to suitable recipients.
“But here the organs were allocated without COTRS,” Trey said.
“This could be a strong hint that organs are harvested on-demand,” after which the organs are allocated on-demand, he said.
In 2019, an independent tribunal found, after a yearlong investigation, that the Chinese regime has forcibly harvested the organs of prisoners of conscience for the transplant market “on a substantial scale,” a practice that continues today.
The primary victims are detained Falun Gong practitioners, it found. Adherents of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice, have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party for more than two decades, with millions having been detained in prisons, labor camps and other facilities, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Trey said given that thousands of organs appear to have bypassed the allocation process, the entire system cannot be trusted.
“If 3,000 organs are not entered, how can we guarantee that 30,000 organs are not entered?” he said. “Maybe they had 30,000 transplants and then decided to register 3,000 of them in COTRS.”
“Once the process is breached, anything can happen.”
Trey suggested that COTRS might just be an “empty shell” or a “sugar-coating for Western doctors.”
“Western doctors are being deceived that COTRS is similar to other organ allocation programs,” he said.
The COTRS report analyzed organ allocation and transplant data in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang from Jan. 1, 2015 to April 13, 2018. Alongside COTRS data, the report draws upon data from companion NHC databases, the China Liver Transplant Registry, and the Chinese Scientific Registry for Kidney Transplantation, as well as information from hospitals’ organ procurement offices.
The report said that nationally, 2,036 organs were registered in COTRS without specifying a source. Trey said that this again demonstrated sluggish reporting “not to the standard of Western allocation programs.”
It also found that 104 organs were allocated to hospitals in Zhejiang but were ultimately not used for transplant. This figure represented 2.6 percent of the organs registered in COTRS in the province during the time period, according to data cited in the report.
That more than 100 organs—or even any organ—would be allocated to a hospital and not be used would be “100 percent impossible” in other regions with developed transplant systems such as the United States and Europe, Trey said.
In the case of a patient passing away before the transplant surgery, then the hospital would need to inform COTRS to suspend the organ transfer or re-allocate it, he said, noting that it was unlikely that more than 100 patients would die before the transplant.
“If those organs were not used, and not re-allocated, that would suggest a sluggish organization or such an abundance of organs that really, nobody would care about them,” Trey said.
In the report, COTRS also identified several issues in the system which indicated that hospitals in Zhejiang may have “falsified medical data, manipulated organs’ distribution, and cheated [the COTRS system] to get donated organs.”
It found more than 1,400 instances of the donor’s or recipient’s data being changed within one hour before transplant, or new recipients being added to the waiting list just before they received the transplant.
“This is awful,” Trey said, adding that it demonstrates fraudulent practice by hospitals.
“If made public to the Western transplant community, it should cause outcry about bad practices.”
The Epoch Times found that one of the hospitals identified in the report as an authorized transplant hospital and that performed transplant operations, Shulan Hospital, is not on the Chinese regime’s official list of transplant hospitals.
“If this hospital is not officially a transplant hospital, what other hospital is performing transplants [without authorization]?” Trey said.
COTRS found five hospitals that were not authorized to conduct organ transplants had performed 43 transplant operations during the statistical period.
This is not the first time China’s official organ transplant data has raised alarm bells.
A 2019 study published in the scientific journal BMC Medical Ethics found that there was “highly compelling evidence” that the Chinese regime was systematically falsifying its organ donation data. It found that the official figures conformed almost precisely to a mathematical formula, a quadratic equation.
Despite heightened scrutiny on China’s organ transplant practices, Beijing is gearing up to expand the industry.
Even as the CCP Virus ravaged China in the first half of 2020, China’s organ transplant industry conducted business as usual, with no “obvious organ waiting time delays,” according to a July investigation by the U.S. nonprofit, World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong. One nurse in the Guangxi region told the investigators that, despite fears of COVID-19 infection, they would “do the surgery whenever there is one,” only that they “won’t go crazy like during the pre-pandemic times.”
Huang Jiefu, former Chinese vice health minister and head of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, boasted at a conference in October 2020 that China had become the second-largest organ transplant country in the world.
“During this COVID-19 pandemic, organ donation and transplantation was developed in a very smooth and high efficient way in our country,” Huang said.
He added that China could become the largest organ transplant country within three years if it could solve three “bottleneck problems,” being “high cost, shortage of transplant capability, and lack of organs.”
The NHC changed transplant rules in August last year to make it easier for doctors and hospitals to be authorized to perform organ transplants.
In December, U.S. lawmakers introduced bills that would sanction foreign officials involved in forced organ harvesting.
“There is growing evidence that the Chinese Communist Party has and continues to harvest organs from prisoners and members of Chinese religious groups,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said at the time.
“It’s past time to hold Beijing accountable for these heinous acts.”
Eva Fu contributed to this report.
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