Rep. Chris Smith holds hearing on Chinese forced organ harvesting, calls for action
The New Jersey based U.S. Congressman condemned the Chinese Communist Party for its practice of harvesting organs from live prisoners at a Congressional hearing on Thursday, calling for “immediate concerted effort to stop this barbaric practice—not only in China, but also by its global enablers”
May 13, 2022 10:35am
Updated: May 13, 2022 1:24pm
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) condemned the Chinese Communist Party for its practice of harvesting organs from live prisoners at a Congressional hearing on Thursday, calling for “immediate concerted effort to stop this barbaric practice—not only in China, but also by its global enablers.”
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which Smith chairs, held the hearing after a recent article published in the American Journal of Transplantation, the top peer-reviewed journal on the subject, found evidence in Chinese-language medical articles that showed Chinese transplant surgeons sometimes had not determined “brain death” before removed organs from donors, including hearts and lungs – killing them in the process of extraction.
“Nowhere is the principle of utter disregard for the dignity of the human person, and of using people as a utilitarian means to an end, more apparent than in the horrific practice of harvesting the organs of human beings, even before they meet the standard of brain death,” said Rep. Smith, who has chaired over 75 congressional hearings on China’s human rights abuses.
The “dead donor” rule is a core value of medical ethics regarding organ transplants. Another is that physicians should not participate in executions of prisoners, which the researchers also found was violated.
The congressman said that organs were often harvested from political prisoners not just to meet donor needs, but as “an apparent form of punishment, and indeed a tool of genocide meant to cull minority populations deemed ‘undesirable’ by the State.”
“Thus we see religious dissidents targeted for harvesting, first and foremost the Falun Gong, whose peaceful meditation and exercise practices unfortunately make their organs desirable. They are declared an “evil cult” – othered – and thus fit for butchering,” he said, referring to the spiritual group that has been persecuted by the government for the past few decades.
Experts believe the Uyghur ethnic minority being held in Xinjiang province have become another source of organs.
Ethan Gutmann, a senior research fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Fund who has investigated organ harvesting in China for over a decade, testified that an 25,000 to 50,000 camp detainees in China are harvested each year for two or three organs amounting to an annual transplant industry of somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 organs.
Another expert witness was Dr. Enver Tohti Bugda, an oncology surgeon from Xinjiang who was ordered by the Chinese government to carry out the first known case of live organ harvesting in 1994. He described the operation to the hearing, including how bleeding indicated the heart was still bleeding.
“Remember nothing happened today,” Dr. Tohti recalled being told by the chief surgeons after the procedure.
Smith introduced a bill last year to head off the forced harvesting of organs “and the trafficking of persons for purposes of the removal of organs.”