28 Jun 2001
Chinese doctor tells Congress of organ harvesting
By Letitia Stein
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chinese doctors have removed organs from executed
prisoners who were not yet clinically dead to make money from foreign
transplant patients, a doctor who fled China told the U.S. Congress on
"My work required me to remove the skin and corneas from the corpses of over
one hundred executed prisoners, and on a couple of occasions, victims of
intentionally botched executions," Dr Wang Guoqi told a House of
Representatives subcommittee on human rights.
"It is with deep regret and remorse that I stand here today testifying
against the practices of organ and tissue sales from death row prisoners,"
he said. Wang left China a year ago and has been living in the United
Wang described coordinated procedures that he said government officials and
Chinese doctors developed to extract organs from inmates immediately after
their executions so they could be transplanted.
Chinese doctors removed the prisoners' organs on the execution site, in some
cases before the prisoners' hearts stopped beating, Wang said.
Wang said that he became tormented by the practice after he followed orders
to remove the skin of a still-living prisoner in October 1995. The incident
prompted him to alert the international community to the inhuman practice of
organ harvesting in China.
"Whatever impact I have made in the lives of burn victims and transplant
patients does not excuse the unethical and immoral manner of extracting
organs," Wang said.
According to Wang's testimony, inmates received blood tests in prison to
determine their compatibility with interested donors. On execution day, he
said, the prisoners who were to become organ donors were the first to die.
The congressional panel also heard graphic testimony about group executions
of prisoners, followed by the involuntary removal of their organs for paying
transplant recipients from human rights activists and a State Department
'ONLY IN CHINA'
"This human rights violation is very unique. It does not happen in any other
country, only in China," said Chinese-American human rights activist Harry
Wu, himself once imprisoned in China.
Kidneys, skin tissue and corneas were among the body parts commonly
harvested from the prisoners and transplanted to foreign recipients,
including U.S. citizens, participants told the panel.
Reports of organ harvesting in China have received considerable attention by
the international community over the past decade. When criticized, Chinese
officials have denied wrongdoing, pointing to 1984 regulations that require
the consent of death row prisoners or their families prior to the removal of
But the panelists said the Beijing government has yet to provide evidence
that it has enforced its official policy.
Michael Parmly, principal deputy assistant secretary of state, said the Bush
administration voiced its concern over the practice of organ harvesting in a
diplomatic discussion on Tuesday with Chinese officials. The State
Department also covered the issue in its annual human rights report on
"In the months ahead, we will continue to make clear our strong opposition
to the repugnant practice of coercive organ harvesting," Parmly testified.
"We will press the government of China to ensure its organ transplant
polices and practices are in compliance with international human rights
norms as well as international medical practices," he added.
In the belief it will deter organ harvesting, some lawmakers want to ban
training visits to the United States by Chinese doctors. The legislators
said the doctors could use these scientific exchange programs to recruit
potential transplant patients to come to China.
Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the subcommittee's chairwoman,
has introduced a bill that would prohibit Chinese doctors from visiting the
United States to receive training in transplant procedures. She said the
bill will send the Chinese doctors a strong human rights message.
"It tells the Chinese doctors that they better be careful; their visas will
not be automatically stamped for approval," Ros-Lehtinen said.
Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
China fury at organ snatching 'lies'
China has denounced a former military doctor who says he removed skin and
organs from executed Chinese prisoners that were then sold, sometimes to
The doctor, Wang Guoqi, told the US Congress on Wednesday that he had taken
part in nearly 100 such operations during his time in China's People's
China says the former doctor is making it up to try to gain political asylum
in the United States.
Involuntary organ donation is illegal under Chinese law, but critics say
Beijing does not enforce the policy.
Without naming the doctor directly, the foreign ministry in Beijing accused
him of fabricating appalling lies, although it did not explicitly rebuff the
allegation that organs are sometimes removed from executed prisoners.
Dr Wang Guoqi told the US Congress that he had removed skin and corneas from
nearly 100 executed prisoners.
He said he had operated on at least one prisoner whose execution had been
botched and was still breathing during the procedure.
Dr Wang said he felt "deep regret and remorse" over his involvement.
His testimony supports that of Chinese-born human-rights activist Harry Wu,
who recently released a report detailing organ harvesting in China.
Mr Wu says rich foreigners pay more than $15,000 for transplants in China.
Dr Wang, 38, said the sale of organs netted huge profits for the People's
He said prisoners selected to be donors were tested before execution for
suitability and then shot in the back of the head so as not to damage their
heart, liver, kidneys or skin.
"We had to work quickly in the crematorium and 10 to 20 minutes was
generally enough to remove all the skin from a corpse," he said.
"Because this system allowed us to treat so many burn victims, our
department became the most reputable and profitable" in the province, Dr
But, he added: "Whatever impact I have made in the lives of burn victims and
transplant patients does not excuse the unethical and immoral manner of
The US Congress is considering punitive action against China in light of the
Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, from Florida, has introduced
a bill to ban Chinese doctors from receiving transplant training in the US.
An official from the State Department human rights bureau described the
alleged organ harvesting as "repugnant".
Asked by Congress if it was possible that reports of the practice were
unfounded, the official, Michael Parmly, said the evidence was "overwhelming
and growing" and the sources who reported it were "credible and numerous".