The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) issued a statement introducing a policy banning the acceptance of organ transplant research papers from China due to the regime’s forced organ harvesting practices. The policy is the first in recent years to come from a medical facility.
The statement released Aug. 28, titled “International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Issues Policy Against Transplant Misuse in China,” said: “In light of the evidence, the government of the People’s Republic of China stands alone when it comes to procurement Organs or tissues from executed prisoners, transplantation-related submissions, and involvement of organs or tissues from human donors in the People’s Republic of China will not be accepted by ISHLT for the purposes listed above.
“This policy, including whether other countries should systematically use organs or tissue from non-consenting human donors and be subject to this restriction, will be reviewed annually pending independent evidence that these practices have ceased.”
Prof Jacob Lavee, a member of the ISHLT ethics committee and an Israeli medical expert, told The Epoch Times on September 18: “The new policy is indeed a complete academic boycott of all transplant-related clinical research from China: the results of such research from China may not be submitted for publication in the Society’s prestigious Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation or presented at the Society’s annual meetings.”
Lavee explained that the new policy is based on the 2020 ruling by the Independent Tribunal on the forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience in China (China Tribunal) and the joint investigation he and Matthew Robertson conducted. “…for this reason [the ISHLT] has changed its transplant ethics policy to reflect its desire to distance itself and its members from this cruel transplant behavior,” he said.
Forced organ harvesting from living people
Falun Gong, a traditional spiritual practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist regime since 1999. Many followers have disappeared over the years. Accordingly, the year 2000 witnessed the explosive growth of the CCP’s organ transplant industry, which has continued to this day.
For years, international human rights organizations and the United States Department of State’s annual human rights reports have noted that the Chinese Communist regime has systematically carried out organ harvesting from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, ethnic minorities and other prisoners of conscience.
David Matas, a Canadian human rights attorney; and the late David Kilgour, a former Canadian cabinet minister, longtime Member of Parliament and prominent human rights defender; published their investigation report in 2006-07 in a book entitled Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs (2009). They collected more than 40 pieces of evidence and testimonies about the Chinese regime’s crime of forcibly harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners who were being illegally detained by the regime.
‘Licence to kill’
In 2015, in response to allegations and increasing pressure from the international community, the Chinese regime claimed that it had reformed its organ transplant system and introduced the practice of voluntary organ donation. But not everyone bought it.
Ethan Gutmann, author of The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem (2014) and a research fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told The Epoch Times on September 19: ” So far, Beijing’s calls for transplant reform have been supported by the medical leadership in the transplant society, the World Health Organization and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Vatican City. This institutional attitude was not only a brake on US political action against Chinese organ harvesting. For the CCP, it was license to kill… Yet the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation just fired a shot and it will surely be heard around the world.”
Lavee added, “Similar policies have existed in the past from several international societies, including TTS, but were rescinded in 2015 following the Chinese announcement of their alleged transplant reform.”
Matas told The Epoch Times on September 19, “Another significance of the statement is that it rejects the Chinese Communist Party/Government of China propaganda about their transplant system, about organ procurement, that all organs are from donations. and about the number of transplants, that transplant numbers are a tiny fraction of their actual number.”
In its 2020 ruling, the China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, said: “The members of the Tribunal came to the unanimous and unanimous conclusion that in China Forcing organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced over a significant period of time, involving a very large number of victims. While the PRC has changed its rhetoric about the sources of organs for transplants, the court found its claims lack credibility and that official statistics were falsified.”
The American Journal of Transplantation published in April 2022 the results of a joint research project by Jacob Lavee, who served as president of the Israel Transplantation Society, and Matthew P. Robertson, a PhD student at the Australian National University and China researcher at the Victims of Communism Foundation. The study shows that in China’s military and local hospitals over the past few decades, organ donors have not died before their hearts are removed, meaning heart removal is the cause of death of the “donors.”
Regarding the importance of the ISHLT’s statement, Matas said, “The statement of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation is significant because it comes from a professional transplant society.” It offers the leverage to end transplant abuse in China, he said .
He added: “There are many national and international transplant associations and journals. They all must apply similar guidelines.”
Lavee said, “This guideline is unique and the first of its kind among international medical societies and will hopefully set an example for others.”
Li Chen contributed to the report.