The Chinese government harvests tens of thousands of organs from prisoners each year, many of whom are living, according to expert testimony delivered at a hearing Thursday.
An estimated 25,000 to 50,000 detainees from the approximately one million ethnic minorities imprisoned within China’s concentration camps are targeted for organ harvesting each year, Ethan Gutmann, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communist Memorial Foundation, said at a hearing held by New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C.
The hearing, which featured a panel of experts on China’s organ harvesting practices, follows the April release of an American Journal of Transplantation paper which researched “the intimate involvement of transplant surgeons in China in the execution of prisoners via the procurement of organs.”
“Doctors in China performed organ transplants without following the standard procedures for establishing brain death,” Smith told the hearing, citing the paper which analyzed almost 3,000 Chinese medical journal articles.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy denied the allegations in a statement to TheDCNF.
“Some organizations and people spread appalling rumors about the existence of ‘live organ harvesting’ in China through documentaries, reports and other forms,” the spokesperson said. “The so-called ‘evidence’ is completely fabricated without any factual basis. Voluntary donations are the only legal source of human organs in China.”
Enver Tohti, a Uyghur surgeon, testified that while working at a hospital in Urumqi, Xinjiang, he was ordered to remove the liver and kidneys from a living prisoner who had been shot by firing squad.
“The nurses have prepared the body, two chief surgeons standing on my left observing my movement … I asked [for] anesthesia, they said no need,” Tohti testified. “I started my insertion, the cut designed as upside-down ‘T’ shape, to expose internal organs as wide and possible. My scalpel finds its way cutting his skin, blood can be seen, it implies that his heart was still pumping blood … he was alive.”
As many as three organs may be harvested from such victims, Gutmann said, citing the annual disappearances of up to 5% of camp detainees from the “28-year-old age group.”
Gutmann’s testimony focused on the “Aksu Complex,” an alleged organ harvesting operation in Xinjiang which includes a concentration camp, Aksu Infection Hospital and a crematorium all “less than a kilometer away from each other.” Harvested organs are taken from Aksu Infection Hospital to nearby Aksu Airport, which features “an export-only fast lane to move human organs east,” Gutmann testified.
Meanwhile, a crematorium located near the Aksu Complex is used to dispose of the victims’ bodies, Gutmann said, testifying a Uyghur who’d survived the prison system claimed: “The air smells like burnt bones.”