Chinese doctor claims organs of executed prisoners are being sold

 

China is at the centre of a new human-rights controversy after claims by a Chinese doctor that he removed organs from at least 100 executed prisoners, including one who was not clinically dead.

Dr Wang Guoqi, a burn specialist who is seeking political asylum in the US, claimed to the US House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Human Rights that he removed corneas and skin from executed prisoners. He said he also saw other doctors remove vital organs from executed prisoners and that his hospital, the Tianjin Paramilitary Police General Brigade Hospital, sold the organs for enormous profits.

China executes more prisoners than any other country. There have been more than 1,000 executions so far this year as a result of a "strike hard" campaign against corruption and crime.

Some Western patients go to China for organ transplants.

Dr Wang (38) went to the US on April 30th with a tourist group and did not return to China. His allegations come just 15 days before the decision on the host city for the 2008 Olympics. Beijing is the favourite to get the games.

According to his statement, security officials were paid $37 a corpse to tip off the hospital about executions. Kidneys were later sold to wealthy or high ranking people for more than $15,000 each.

Dr Wang said that in many cases prisoners were shot and then placed in ambulances, where their kidneys were extracted.

Afterwards, he and other doctors removed skin from the corpses to use later on burn victims. He said he also extracted corneas and other tissue. The corpses were then cremated.

He said he was ordered to remove the skin of a still-living prisoner in October 1995. The incident prompted him to alert the international community to the practice.

According to Dr Wang's testimony, inmates received blood tests to determine their compatibility with interested clients. Reports of organ-harvesting in China have received considerable attention in the past decade. Chinese officials have denied wrongdoing, pointing to 1984 regulations that require the consent of death-row prisoners or their families for the removal of their organs.

The US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mr Michael Parmly, said yesterday the US 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.

Some legislators want to ban training visits to the US by Chinese doctors, claiming the programmes could be used to encourage transplant patients to go to China.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman yesterday denied Dr Wang's claims. She said his account was totally untrue and she reiterated China's policy that consent of death-row prisoners or their families is required before the removal of their organs.