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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

Wednesday.

 

"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

States.

 

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

official.

 

'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

their organs.

 

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

China.

 

"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.

 

__________

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_1411000/1411389.stm

 

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

foreigners.

 

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

Liberation Army.

 

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.

 

'Appaling lies'

 

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.

 

Profits

 

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

Liberation Army.

 

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

Wang said.

 

'Unethical' behaviour

 

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

extracting organs".

 

The US Congress is considering punitive action against China in light of the

reports.

 

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".