‘Killing to Live’: China Transplant Tourism Exposed by Undercover Journalists

China Transplant Tourism Exposed by Undercover Journalists
Chinese activists dramatise an illegal act of paying for human organs during a protest in Washington DC, USA on 19 April 2006
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By Jason Lee

When I went for the transplant, I didn’t know that the donor was going to be killed.

-Anonymous organ recipient in China

Since 1999, the convergence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s campaign to eradicate Falun Gong with China’s booming organ transplant industry has garnered global attention.

Independent investigations by various international bodies have confirmed the CCP’s pillaging of organs from prisoners of conscience, particularly from Falun Gong adherents.

Published works on the situation include ‘Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China’ by Canadian attorneys David Matas and David Kilgour; as well as ‘The Slaughter’ by veteran China analyst Ethan Gutmann, who concluded that “mass murder is alive and well”.

In November last year, a South Korean broadcasting company, TV Chosun, aired a special episode on their weekly documentary programme ‘Investigative Report Seven’.

Titled ‘The Dark Side of Transplant Tourism in China: Killing to Live’, the documentary offered the public first-hand evidence of this unprecedented crime against humanity.

The Revelation

The unnamed “T Hospital” in Tianjin, China.
The unnamed “T Hospital” in Tianjin, China.

As part of the investigation, three South Korean journalists travelled to an anonymised “T Hospital” in Tianjin, China under the pretence of purchasing a kidney for a fictitious relative.

In less than 30 minutes, they received an offer of US$130,000 (S$179,000), with a guarantee that the “relative” could receive a kidney in a few weeks.

The journalists were attended to by a nurse in charge of Korean patients. One of the journalists asked the nurse, “Is [the transplant] authorised officially?”, in reference to the ban on organ transplant tourism promised by the CCP before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Well, the government pretends not to know about it,” the nurse replied.

The journalists also met fellow South Koreans at the hospital.

“In Korea, you just wait for the much-needed organs forever. But in China, the organs come easy,” said the relative of a Korean inpatient who had just received a liver transplant. “I don’t know where they come from,” he added.

The journalists also asked the nurse how many surgeries are performed per day.

“Yesterday [they transplanted] one pancreas, three kidneys, and four livers,” replied the nurse without hesitation.

According to the nurse, waiting times range from a few days to two months.

In the early 2000s, “T Hospital” built a new 17-storey wing with 500 beds dedicated solely for organ transplant.

Despite the expansion, the hospital is still running at overcapacity. To meet transplant demands, the hospital has leased one storey of a neighbouring apartment as a ward.

Drone footage captured by the journalists show that the operating theatres run 24 hours a day.

Drone footage showing the operating theatres of “T Hospital” running at night.
Drone footage showing the operating theatres of “T Hospital” running at night.

In the process of their investigation, the journalists made another disturbing discovery—the brain death machine.

In the process of their investigation, the journalists made another disturbing discovery—the brain death machine.

Simulation of the brain death machine.
Simulation of the brain death machine.

Patented in 2012, the brain death machine was invented to inflict instant brain death to the subject.

One of the researchers was Wang Lijun, former regional police chief of Chongqing and the former head of the Liaoning Research Centre.

“This [machine] causes brain death, but the other organs are not damaged,” said one of the researchers.

Chongqing Military Hospital is officially licensed to use the machine.

According to its patent, the machine consists of a high velocity gas gun that fires a metal ball into the subject’s primary brainstem, causing immediate brain death.

Wang worked at the centre between 2003 and 2008, during which he also invented an injectable drug that kills without damaging organs.

According to the documentary, Wang also admitted to conducting clinical trials on live human beings to test the drug, which has been patented.

Kim Daygeong, editor of NTD Television in Korea, describes Wang as “a violent and inhumane officer”.

“He experimented on the human bodies of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners,” he adds.

Wang is currently serving a 15-year prison term on charges of abuse of power, bribery, and defection.

Despite Wang’s arrest, another similar development from the same agency was patented in 2017. The new machine is capable of delivering a more “efficient and reliable” strike.

“It’s to extract human organs intact. I am quite sure,” said Dr Lee Seungwon, a specialist in surgery and President of the International Association for Ethical Organ Transplants. “Why else cause brain death to humans?”

The Background

Officially an atheist regime, the CCP is infamous for its oppression of faiths and its followers—Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan monks, House Christians, and most recently, adherents of a qigong practice known as Falun Gong.

China’s traditional culture and values have also been undermined and eroded. Over 5,000 years of historic culture disappeared within a decade of the CCP’s rule, to be replaced by communist indoctrination.

“[Communism] abolishes all religions, and all morality.”—Communist Manifesto, 1848.

Founded in 1992, Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a set of meditation exercises with moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. The practice’s popularity—as well as the fact that its traditional values conflicted with the CCP’s manifesto—led to the brutal persecution that persists today.

“Kill them physically, bankrupt them financially, and ruin their reputations,” said Jiang Zemin, former General Secretary of the CCP.

“At present, the [CCP] defines Falun Gong as a class enemy,” said a military doctor who requested to remain anonymous. “In other words, like serious offenders, Falun Gong people are no longer seen as human  beings, but raw materials for products, and they became a commodity.”

According to the 2016 investigative report ‘An Update to Bloody Harvest & The Slaughter’, “Whatever one concludes about the killing of Falun Gong for their organs, the vilification and brutalisation of Falun Gong in China is incontestable.”

Facing international pressure from human rights groups, the CCP backtracked in its publicity of transplant tourism. “Payments for organs and transplant tourism are not permitted,” declared the Chinese government before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

However, the evidence suggests that these statements were simply empty words.

We see no hospital closing, we see no transplant centre struggling. In fact, we see the opposite, we see construction progress.
– Ethan Gutmann, China analyst and independent investigator, on the persistence of the organ harvesting trade in China

“We see no hospital closing, we see no transplant centre struggling. In fact, we see the opposite, we see construction progress,” concluded Gutman, co-author of An Update.

“The problem has not been solved, it has gotten worse”, said Gutmann. “When I was writing my book, I believed I was writing about history. It wasn’t history, it never was”.

Tianjin First Central Hospital, one of the numerous hospitals mentioned in the investigation report, was found to have approximately 5,000 transplants per year based on its beds capacity.

The Moral Dilemma

As for the Korean undercover journalists, they raised a difficult question from a doctor in Korea, who recommends patients go to China for organ transplants.

“Imagine you are one of them. Suppose if you don’t get a transplant, you will die in one year. Even then, do you think you have a choice?” asked the Korean doctor.

On the other end of the spectrum, the documentary film team also presented perspectives from Mr Kim, a former Chinese prisoner of conscience who was miraculously set free.

“In prison, I saw practitioners of Falun Gong tortured to death. One night, somebody came and extracted the organs in a box,” recalled Mr Kim. “The other inmates and I saw it all.”

“Whether you believe in God or not, avoid trading with the evil at all costs,” urged Mr Kim.

To answer the above-mentioned moral dilemma, perhaps the following quotes will help elucidate our personal decision-making process:

Thus heaven I’ve forfeited, I know it full well. /My soul, once true to God, is chosen for hell.

– Karl Marx


Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.

– The Bible, Book of Matthew

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