Florida Falun Gong Practitioners Rally to Expose China's Illicit Organ Harvesting at Transplant Surgeons' Meeting (Photo)
Falun Gong practitioners outside the ASTS symposium
MARCO ISLAND, Fla.--While transplant surgeons attended a symposium at the Marriott Hotel on Marco Island, Falun Gong practitioners rallied outside to publicize the Chinese regime's organ harvesting atrocities.
The American Society of Transplant Surgeons held its winter symposium January 12-14, 2007. The symposium, themed solving the organ shortage crisis, centered topics on organ donors and ethics issues of organ transplants. Outside, about a dozen Falun Gong practitioners displayed banners and distributed flyers to passersby, including doctors who were participating in the symposium. Since live harvestings of Falun Gong practitioners' organs were exposed in March, 2006, a dark shadow had been cast onto organ transplant circle, as demands for organs from foreign countries may have put flames on the flourishing business of organ harvesting in China.
"Grim Harvest in China," "Rescue Falun Gong Practitioners -Jailed for Their Beliefs, Killed for Their Organs," the messages on the banners clearly stated the crimes happening in China.
Organ Harvesting Exposed
The world first learned about China's illicit organ harvesting practices after a Japanese journalist who had been on assignment in China revealed the existence of a labor camp where Chinese surgeons were cutting organs out of living Falun Gong practitioners, using only the smallest amount of anesthesia. The victims were then cremated, whether dead or still alive.
Shortly afterwards, the wife of a surgeon who had removed more than 2,000 corneas from living Falun Gong practitioners publicly confirmed the journalist's allegations.
Independent Report Confirms Organ Harvesting Atrocities
In July 2006, human rights attorney David Matas and former Canadian MP David Kilgour published the findings of their independent investigation: "Report Into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China."
David Matas is an immigration and international human rights lawyer. David Kilgour formerly was a Canadian MP, a Canadian Secretary of State for the Asia Pacific region, and a Crown Prosecutor.
One of the first anomalies their research uncovered was the enormous increase in transplants in China in the past several years.
Prior to the banning of Falun Gong, and the subsequent arrest of hundreds of thousands of practitioners, China executed approximately 3,000 prisoners each year, and performed about the same number of transplants.
After the communist regime declared Falun Gong illegal in 1999, the number of transplants increased enormously, while the number of executions remained the same.
Kilgour and Matas found that more than 40,000 transplants had been performed with organs for which there was no identifiable, legitimate source.
When Kilgour and Matas' investigators called Chinese hospitals, doctors admitted that their transplant organs came from Falun Gong practitioners. One doctor said he was out of Falun Gong organs, and directed Kilgour and Matas to another hospital that would have some readily available.
The Kilgour-Matas report caused alarm among transplant surgeons around the world. The Transplant Society responded with a statement condemning the use of organs from executed prisoners. The Association of Transplant Surgeons featured the report in the September issue of its magazine, Transplant News.
The rally, which continued throughout the 3-day symposium, offered a chance for transplant surgeons and the general public to learn more about the regime's practice of warehousing Falun Gong prisoners of conscience as a living organ pool for communist China's booming transplantation industry, which it markets abroad.
While most of the surgeons who stopped by the rally were aware of the issue, few knew all the details outlined in the Kilgour-Matas report, which has confirmed the use of Chinese citizens incarcerated for practicing Falun Gong as the principle source of organs for China's lucrative transplant tourism.
Rally to Inform and Educate
"We want to share this information about China's organ harvesting with symposium attendees," explained a western practitioners organizing the event. "We hope that when the surgeons know the whole story they will get involved through their professional organizations, and maybe through the U.S. government."
"We had 10 or 15 practitioners out here each day of the symposium," she continued. "We are all volunteers--we came from all across the state to participate."
The majority of the surgeons who stopped by had heard about China's organ harvesting abuses and were supportive of the efforts to stop them. "As the doctors learn more, they see that the Chinese regime's practice of organ harvesting affects them on a professional level, and they also begin to feel it on a personal level," A practitioner said.
Transplant Surgeons Express Alarm
Many surgeons who stopped by the rally expressed shock and dismay at the extent of the atrocities being committed in the organ harvesting industry in China.
Two doctors from the Netherlands had heard of the abuses in China but had not realized the scale. "We have to go back to the Netherlands and discuss this," said one.
The other commented on problems that arise because Chinese hospitals cannot provide the level of care that patients in the Netherlands are used to. He explained that when patients come back with complications from surgery in China, "We have to take care of them--we have to," despite the fact that they abhorred the process by which the patients obtained the organs.
The first doctor added that transplantation has been viewed as a life-saving science. He feared that when the general public learns of the Chinese regime's illicit practices, their perception of organ transplantation might be "turned completely around."
A group of surgeons from the New England Organ Bank said that they were aware of the situation in China and that their organization would be working with the World Health Organization to address the issue.
A surgeon said when he was asked his impression of the symposium that even China has promised to stop using prisoners' organs and to monitor its over 500 transplant centers established after 2000. As an authoritarian state, can it monitor itself? He expressed concern on organ tourism.
Public Showing Support
Marco Island is a quiet town but many visitors and local resident passed the hotel and accepted information from practitioners. Workers working on hotel renovations graciously offered help and found time to listen to practitioners explain what is happening in China.
One lady stopped her car and asked why the US government did not take steps to stop this heinous crime. She said she would write to her representative.
A gentleman in his eighties driving a expensive antique car came back after accepting our information and asked for a dozen copies of all the information we had. He planned to distribute the information to his friends.
A local newspaper came to interview practitioners and published a report the next day. On the second day, many residents said they had already read the story and understood the situation.
January's Marco Island was unusually hot for this time of year. Practitioners stood under the hot sun for three days and many got sunburned. But they were glad that many physicians and general public learned the true facts.
On the other hand, continued efforts to clarify the truth to the organ transplant community is much needed. We sense strongly the fear from the society of transplant surgeons that what is happening in China has seriously damaged the reputation of organ transplants, which have a goal of saving lives. We need to make them understand that we share the same goal of saving lives and stopping the illegal organ harvesting from innocent people.