Saturday, May 15, 2021

Australian University Trained Doctor Who Oversaw Organ Harvesting in China

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James Burke
What keeps the world ticking? James is always looking for the answer and the latest news from around the globe. When he's not behind his computer, he's basking in the Thailand sun, or dreaming of the southern hemisphere, where he grew up in rural Australia.

There’s a good reason why an Australian academic described a high profile Chinese surgeon as a serial killer.

That surgeon is Huang Jiefu, the architect of China’s industrial-scale organ transplant industry that researchers say sources most of its organs through killing prisoners of conscience.

Maria A. Fiatarone Singh, a professor of medicine at the University of Sydney, said that Huang admitted to transplanting over 500 livers during a time when it was all clearly coming from executed prisoners in China.

“[A] serial killer is the current head of the new system that is meant to be transparent and open and free of any kind of moral problems,” Professor Singh said during a Sydney panel discussion on organ harvesting in China last month.

“So would you put a serial killer in charge of a new organization designed to stop crime? You obviously wouldn’t, but that is exactly what China has done.”

Huang is currently the head of the so-called China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and chairman of the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation.

From October 2001 to early 2013, he was the vice minister of China’s Ministry of National Health and Family Planning Commission, which put him in charge of organ transplantation in the country. He held this position as China’s organ transplantation rate skyrocketed and the organ transplant industry made billions.

Watch the panel discussion in full here:

Researchers — former Canadian MP David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas — said in 2006 that the source of the organs was coming from peaceful Falun Gong practitioners who were held in prisons and killed on demand. Other prisoners of conscience — Tibetans, Uyghurs, and House Christians — have also been targeted by the communists as a source of bodily organs, only to a lesser extent, they said.

In 2016, Kilgour and Matas updated their findings with investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann in another report that estimated there are 60,000 to 100,000 organ transplants performed annually in China. Among the evidence used to calculate these figures was data from hospital revenue, transplantation volumes, bed utilization rates, surgical personnel, training programs, and state funding.

The source for these organs they concluded was still prisoners of conscience, despite China’s effort to sell to the world the idea they were moving toward having a functioning donation system and declarations saying they had outlawed the use of prisoner organs in 2015.

Watch Professor Singh speak more about Huang and organ harvesting in China in this 2015 video:


During the 1980s, Huang was a post-doctoral fellow at Sydney University, where his major study area was liver transplantation. The prestigious Australian university later gave him an honorary professorship, something that spurred Professor Singh into action.

“[In 2013], we found he was still an honorary professor at the University of Sydney,” she said. “So we mounted a campaign to get this title revoked because these are obviously violating the ethical standards of the University of Sydney and it took about 2 years and six letters to the vice chancellor before they just finally let his title slip away; they refused to actually fire him,” she said.

“So we are complicit, we are completely complicit in this incredibly horrendous industry, and therefore it is not enough to go home in horror. As Australians, we have to actually do something to right the wrong of something our country actually helped create,” Professor Singh said.

The academic said that Huang and others like him in China did not hide in the shadows, but sought recognition from their counterparts in the West.

“In recent years, Huang has become very high profile with all the major international organizations, with the Vatican, with the Transplantation Society, and there has been a real tendency to just believe what he says,” Professor Singh said in reference to Huang’s claims that China’s transplant system is now aboveboard.

“So again, this is a serial killer who had admitted to having no moral problem with transplanting 500 livers from executed prisoners,” she said. “People [are] willing to look past his past crimes and [are] willing to believe he is telling the truth now when he has been lying for years.”

Watch below “The Dark Side of Transplant Tourism in China: Killing to Live” a documentary on China’s transplant tourism produced for South Korea’s TV Chosun:

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