China organ procurement: are prisoners having their organs harvested? What new Australian research found
The country is accused of having removed organs from living prisoners in a newly published Australian study
The Australian National University released the new study which shows the country has enlisted the help of surgeons to remove organs from prisoners across the country.
The accusations have garnered criticism from human rights activists.
What did the study say about organ harvesting in China?
Currently, harvesting organs from dead prisoners in China is legal, however removing organs from living prisoners is not.
However, the new research from the Australian National University showed that some procedures took place while the prisoners were still alive.
The aim of the study was to determine whether a prisoner was “brain-dead” before organs were removed from their body.
Published in the American Journal of Transplantation, the research showed there was evidence of around 71 examples of the heart being removed from prisoners in which “brain-death could not be declared”.
The criteria for being declared a “brain-dead” means that the person in question is not able to breath without a ventilator. The study showed in these 71 cases, this could not be proven as the declaration of death was made before their breathing ability was assessed with the ventilator.
Those who were operated on were prisoners on death-row as well as prisoners of conscience (who are imprisoned for what they believe in).
What has been said about the results of the study?
Authors of the study, Matthew Robertson and Dr Jacob Lavee, say surgeons are acting as executioners in cases where living prisoners are having organs removed.
Mr Robertson said: “In these cases, the removal of the heart during organ procurement must have been the proximate cause of the donor’s death.
“Because these organ donors could have only been prisoners, our finding strongly suggest that physicians in the People’s Republic of China have participated in executions by organ removal.”
They also believe the number of cases in which living prisoners were being operated on could be much higher.
Mr Robertson continued: “There were many other cases where it wasn’t as explicit.
“And in those cases, we just ditched them, because we wanted very clear evidence on the primary claim.
“The evidence is that it is happening and it is systematic and widespread.”
Human rights activists have called the findings of the study “almost too dreadful to believe”, adding that it “tells a terrible tale of murder and mutilation in China”.
China has been accused of the practice in the past, to which the country has vehemently denied.