On the 27th of November at the French National Assembly in Paris, a panel discussion on the ethical issues related to organ trafficking and transplant tourism in China was led by Member of Parliament for the Bouches-du-Rhône, Valérie Boyer and by Dr. Harold King, the contact person for Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) in France.
The discussion was held by French medical professionals, including transplant surgeons who shared their concerns regarding the source of human organs and the phenomenon of organ trafficking still prevalent in China, despite the law passed in 2007 that prohibited transplant tourism. Since 1980, the Chinese government has permitted police to use the organs of prisoners’ corpses with or without theirs or their families’ consent.
Throughout the years, this has warranted a lot of critical attention to the ethics involved in the organs’ procurement practiced in China. China has attempted to rebut the claims against its practices, however speculation persists. As a response to a report on forced organ harvesting by two Canadians, David Kilgour and David Matas, after 2008, 169 hospitals in China have proposed to limit the use of organs from deceased prisoners. Forced organ harvesting is a major ethical issue in the international arena, but especially in China. During the discussion, Dr. Harold King, presented some alarming statistics.
In 2012, about 1,167 people volunteered for organ donation as provided by the Chinese government, which corresponds exactly with the number of people who died during the year to donate their organs. China is the only country in the world where one can get an organ in less than 2 weeks. If so, this information is inconsistent with the clinical and scientific data as well as figures on the number of people executed in China every year. The question remains about the source of available human organs. According David Kilgour and David Matas, as well as American journalist, Ethan Gutmann, this organ surplus comes from Falun Gong practitioners who are prisoners of conscience, who have been imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands in Chinese prisons since 1999.
In December 2013, the European Parliament voted on a resolution against forced organ harvesting in China. Doctors Against forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) presented a petition of about 1.4 million signatures including over 300,000 from Europe to the Office of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva. They urged the Office to halt forced human organ harvesting form Prisoners of conscience, Falun Gong.