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The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) issued a statement introducing a policy to ban acceptance of any research papers on organ transplantation from China due to the regime’s forced organ harvesting practices. The policy is the first in recent years to come from a medical institution.

The statement titled “International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Issues Policy Regarding Transplant Abuse in China” issued on Aug. 28, said, “Given the body of evidence that the government of the People’s Republic of China stands alone in continuing to systematically support the procurement of organs or tissue from executed prisoners, submissions related to trans-plantation and involving either organs or tissue from human donors in the People’s Republic of China will not be accepted by ISHLT for the purposes listed above.

“This policy, including whether other countries systematically engage in the use of organs or tissue from non-consenting human donors and should be subject to this restriction, will be reviewed on an annual basis pending independently obtained proof that these practices have ceased.”

Prof. Jacob Lavee, a member of the ISHLT ethics committee and an Israeli medical expert, told The Epoch Times on Sept. 18, “The new policy is, in effect, a full academic boycott on any transplant-related clinical research from China: The products of such research from China may not be submitted for publication in the Society’s prestigious Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation and may not be presented in the Society’s annual meetings.”

Lavee explained that the new policy is based on the 2020 judgment by the Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China (China Tribunal) and the joint research that he and Matthew Robertson conducted. “…therefore [the ISHLT] amended its Transplant Ethics policy to reflect its desire to distance itself and its members from this atrocious transplant conduct,” he said.

Forced Live Organ Harvesting

Falun Gong, a traditional spiritual practice based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. Many adherents have disappeared over the years. Correspondingly, the year 2000 saw the explosive growth of the CCP’s organ transplant industry, which continues to the present day.

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong followers in a parade marking the 23rd year of the persecution of the spiritual discipline in China, in New York’s Chinatown on July 10, 2022. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

For years, international human rights organizations and the State Department of the United States annual reports on human rights have identified that the Chinese communist regime has systematically been conducting forced live organ harvesting on detained Falun Gong practitioners, ethnic minorities, and other prisoners of conscience.

David Matas, a Canadian human rights lawyer; and the late David Kilgour, a former Canadian Cabinet minister, longtime member of Parliament, and renowned defender of human rights; published their 2006–07 investigation report in a book titled “Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs” (2009). They collected more than 40 pieces of evidence and testimonies about the Chinese regime’s crime of forced live organ harvesting targeting Falun Gong practitioners who were illegally detained by the regime.

‘License to Kill’

In response to accusations and mounting pressure from the international community, the Chinese regime claimed in 2015 that it had reformed its organ transplant system and adopted the practice of voluntary organ donation. But not everyone was buying it.

Ethan Gutmann and his book,
Ethan Gutmann and his book, “The Slaughter,” which provides critical evidence about organ harvesting. (The Epoch Times)

Ethan Gutmann, author of “The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem” (2014), and China Studies research fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told The Epoch Times on Sept. 19: “Until now, Beijing’s claims of transplant reform were endorsed by the medical leadership in The Transplantation Society, the World Health Organization, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Vatican City. This institutional stance was not just a brake on U.S. political action against Chinese organ harvesting. For the CCP, it was a license to kill … Yet the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation has just fired a shot and it will surely be heard around the world.”

Lavee added, “Similar policies were in place by several international societies in the past, including TTS, but they were lifted in 2015 following the Chinese announcement of their alleged transplant reform.”

Matas told The Epoch Times on Sept. 19: “Yet another significance of the statement is that it is a rejection of the Chinese Communist Party/government of China propaganda about its transplant system, about sourcing of organs, that all organs come from donations, and about numbers of transplants, that transplant numbers are a tiny fraction of their actual numbers.”

Judgment

In its 2020 judgment, the Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China (China Tribunal), presided by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, said: “The Tribunal’s members unanimously and beyond reasonable doubt, concluded that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practised for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims. While the PRC has changed its rhetoric about the sources of organs for transplantation, the Tribunal found that its claims are unbelievable and that official statistics have been falsified.”

Tribunal chair Geoffrey Nice
Tribunal chair Geoffrey Nice delivers the verdict of the independent tribunal assessing evidence on China’s alleged rights abuses of the Uyghur people. The tribunal took place in London on Dec. 9, 2021. (Alberto Pezzali/AP Photo)

The American Journal of Transplantation in April 2022 published the results of a joint research project by Jacob Lavee, who served as president of the Israel Transplantation Society, and Matthew P. Robertson, a doctoral student at the Australian National University and a researcher on China at the Victims of Communism Foundation. The study shows that in the past few decades, in China’s military and local hospitals, organ donors have not died before their hearts are removed, that is, the removal of the hearts is the cause of death of the “donors.”

Regarding the significance of the ISHLT’s statement, Matas said, “The statement of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation is significant because it comes from a professional transplant society.” It provides the leverage to end transplant abuse in China, he said.

He added, “There are many national and international transplant associations and journals. They all need to adopt similar policies.”

Lavee said, “This policy is unique, and the first of its kind among international medical societies, and hopefully will set an example for others to follow.”

Li Chen contributed to the report.

Alex Wu

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Alex Wu is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Chinese society, Chinese culture, human rights, and international relations.

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