Woman Dies Under Suspicious Circumstances in a Prison Hospital, Authorities Refuse to Release the Body
(Minghui.org) A woman imprisoned for her faith in Falun Gong was operated on without her family’s consent. She remained in a coma after the surgery. The police removed her life support when her family wasn’t around. She died soon after. The authorities confiscated Ms. Li Changfang’s body and refused to return it to her family.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Arrest and Sentence
Ms. Li, a farmer from Linyi City, Shandong Province, was arrested on October 23, 2018, after the police scaled the fence and broke into her home.
Officers from the Yinan County Police Department and Yiwen Town Police Station confiscated several of her family’s belongings, including her husband’s computer, her cellphone, and her son’s electric car.
Ms. Li was sentenced to 2.5 years and fined 10,000 yuan on March 27, 2019. She appealed the verdict but was informed on May 24, 2019, that the sentence had been upheld.
Ms. Li’s family was informed around 9 p.m. on July 5, 2019, that she had been hospitalized. As her husband, Mr. Wang Xijie, was working out of town and could not return on time, he asked their daughter, Ms. Wang Xiaojiao, and two relatives to go to the hospital to visit her.
Many police officers were at the hospital. They demanded that Ms. Wang sign the consent form for surgery.
Just as Ms. Wang was about to sign the form, her father called to check on the situation. She told her father that the doctor suspected Ms. Li had gastric or intestinal perforation, but couldn’t confirm it. Mr. Wang told her not to sign the form and to wait for him.
After Mr. Wang arrived at the hospital around 2:50 a.m. on July 6, Ms. Li told him that she'd had abdominal pain for half a month. The pain started in her stomach and then spread to her lower body. The pain became so severe that she could only drink some water before she was taken to the hospital one week later.
Mr. Wang also noticed that she had bruises on her back and thighs and asked the police what had happened. They refused to provide any explanation.
Mr. Wang suspected that she was poisoned by unknown drugs, as she said that she had been forced to take some kind of medicine several times and was injected with unknown drugs. The day after the injection, she ached, and from the waist down her skin was reddish and swollen and then turned purple.
Mr. Wang later asked a doctor about Ms. Li’s condition and was told it could be a skin disease or an infection. When they questioned the doctor further, the doctor made contradictory statements.
Mr. Wang wanted to take photos so he could ask for advice from other experts. But Lu Guoqiang, the head of Linyi City Detention Center didn’t let him, with the excuse that Ms. Li was an inmate. Lu also refused to release Ms. Li on medical parole.
Mr. Wang talked to the attending doctor around 5 a.m. about Ms. Li's condition. The doctor said they could only determine whether she had gastrointestinal perforation by opening her up. He also said no CT scan or any other hospital in the country could diagnose her condition without opening her up.
When Mr. Wang asked if he had other options, the doctor said they could observe Ms. Li’s condition for another week without having the surgery, and see if she recovered.
Zhang Xiuxia, the detention center guard, appeared to be upset after finding out that the doctor wasn’t going to operate on Ms. Li. Zhang insisted that it be carried out.
When Mr. Wang went to visit Ms. Li again, he was not allowed to enter the room.
Surgery Without Family’s Consent
A few hours later, around 11 a.m. on July 6, the doctor asked Mr. Wang to sign the consent form to operate on Ms. Li, saying that her condition had worsened and that there was no chance she would survive without the surgery.
Mr. Wang eventually signed the form after being threatened by the doctor and detention center guards.
After signing the form, Mr. Wang saw Ms. Li. She told him that she felt better after receiving the IV drips around noon. Mr. Wang also noticed that the bruises on her body had disappeared.
Ms. Li’s 82-year-old mother and aunt in her 80s also came to see her before the surgery.
Ms. Li was wheeled into the operating room around 3:30 p.m. and taken directly to the ICU after her surgery ended around 7 p.m.
Aftermath of Operation
The doctor said that Ms. Li would regain consciousness the next morning, adding that the wound might have an infection in four to five days. He also told the family to return home.
But, as soon as her family arrived home, the doctor called Ms. Li's son, Mr. Wang Xiaofei, and asked him to return to the hospital. On arrival, he was asked to sign many forms, including a critical condition notice, and some medication list.
On the next morning around 8 a.m. (July 7), the younger Mr. Wang received another call, was told Ms. Li's kidney had an infection, and that she needed to be put on a dialysis machine. The doctor said her condition was very serious.
Meanwhile, the authorities only allowed one of Ms. Li’s family to visit her, once every day.
When the elder Mr. Wang visited Ms. Li on that day, he noticed that her body was wrapped in a white cloth from her chest down. The police refused to let him lift up the cloth to take a look. He also saw that her body was swollen – a nurse claimed that it was because Ms. Li's urine could not be excreted.
The family also noticed that Ms. Li's eyes had been taped shut since the surgery, which was not removed before she passed away.
On July 8, the doctors said Ms. Li also had some liver problem and internal poisoning, which affected her other organs.
On July 9, a doctor said that they found Ms. Li already had an infection before she was taken to the hospital, adding that Ms. Li's lactic acid was 10 times more than the normal level, which usually indicated heart failure, severe infection, or shock.
On July 10, the director of the detention center, Ding Chunling, asked that Mr. Wang’s family come to the hospital. When the family arrived, they noticed many police and plainclothes officers in the hospital.
The police attempted to force the family to sign the discharge papers, but they refused. The younger Mr. Wang was beaten when he went to the restroom. Yet, the police claimed that he started the fight.
He managed to escape and call for help: “My mother is in a coma because of the police, and now they are beating me!” He told other patients how his mother was arrested and sentenced to prison for her faith in Falun Gong and how she was operated for appendicitis but was moved to the ICU after the surgery. He also told everyone that they were now forced to take his mother out of the hospital although she had not recovered.
Ding told the elder Mr. Wang that the court had agreed to release Ms. Li on medical parole, and he could take her home, as long as he signed the discharge form.
Mr. Wang said to Ding, “You refused medical parole when I first applied for it. Now, that my wife is dying, you try not to accept responsibility. I won’t sign any form. I only want my wife to recover.”
Police Overreach and Harassment
When the younger Mr. Wang visited Ms. Li at 2:30 p.m. on July 10 and tried to take a photo of her, the detention center staff stopped him. Then Ding told the older Mr. Wang that his son had assaulted the police.
The elder Mr. Wang asked the officers who claimed to be assaulted by his son for their IDs. They rudely replied that they didn't have them before returning to the ICU.
Shortly after, the police arrested Mr. Wang, his son, daughter, and two other relatives and took them to Dongguan Police Station. They were all interrogated and forced to sign a statement to guarantee they would not cause trouble for the authorities. The officers threatened the family: “We will release Mr. Wang if you cooperate. It all depends on your attitude.”
While everyone was released at midnight, the younger Mr. Wang was held overnight and released on July 11.
At 2:30 p.m. on July 12, the elder Mr. Wang visited Ms. Li and called her name. Ms. Li appeared to be short of breath. He called her a few times. She twisted her head a little. Her head moved a little again and tears covered her face when he continued to call.
Mr. Wang was excited and told the doctor that she had feelings. But the doctor said that Ms. Li's movement was controlled by the machine and it wasn’t her own consciousness.
The hospital called Ms. Li’s family around six p.m., less than four hours after they left the hospital and said that she was dying and needed to be resuscitated. The family rushed to the hospital, only to see many police officers in the hospital again, including in the ICU room. The car from the funeral home was also waiting.
When the family entered the room, they found that the oxygen tube had been removed and the cardiac compression machine had also stopped. The doctor attempted to start the machine again when her family arrived. They were asked to leave the ICU.
Body Confiscated after Death
After Ms. Li died, Ding told Ms. Wang that as a daughter, she had to buy a shroud for her mother and pulled her away. However, once the shroud was bought, the police didn’t allow Ms. Wang and her sister-in-law to get close to Ms. Li. The officers also forbade them from crying.
The detention center gave Mr. Wang a certificate that stated Ms. Li was released on July 10.
When Ms. Li's body was to be transferred, Mr. Wang requested the authorities to wait a while as Ms. Li's aunt and uncle were still on their way to come to see her. The request was rejected, and Ms. Li’s body was taken away by the police and staff from the funeral home.
On July 13, Ms. Li's family and lawyer met with officers from the detention center. Liu Shidai, another director at the detention center said that Ms. Li was not a detainee since July 10 and signaled that they bore no responsibility for her death.
The lawyer prepared a complaint letter for Ms. Li's family. But the local procuratorate refused to accept it.
Later, the prosecutor accepted their complaint, and allowed Ms. Li's family to watch the surveillance videos of her at the detention center, but limited the number of people watching to six. In addition, they didn’t allow the family to watch videos between June 30 and July 5, the week before she was taken to the hospital.
When Ms. Li's family went to the procuratorate on August 2, they were not allowed to do any recording, although this had been agreed upon by the authorities earlier.
The prosecutor said the Linyi City Detention Center didn’t violate any regulations during Ms. Li’s detention. They demanded her family pay for the 300,000 yuan medical expenses for her, adding that the police intended to hold Ms. Li's son responsible for assaulting the officers.
On August 22, government officials from Yiwen Township broadcasted a video showing Ms. Li's family refusing to sign the consent form for her surgery to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members in the village and said that Ms. Li would not have died if she did not practice Falun Gong and if her family had signed the form on time. They added that the family should bear the responsibility.
Ms. Li's medical record provided by the hospital also said that she'd had a stomach problem for more than ten years, while her family said she never had any stomach problems before she was arrested.
The government officials later told Ms. Li's family that if they paid 40,000 yuan to have her body cremated, then they did not have to pay her medical expenses.
Mr. Wang said, “We can pay you the 40,000 yuan, but give us back her body.”
“No way are we giving you her body,” said one official.
Parties involved in persecution:
Li Zongqiang (李宗强), president of Yinan Court: +86-539-3276110, +86-539-322100Liu Shengchen (刘省臣), physician, Linyi People's Hospital: +86-135-83955413Yang Xiaofeng (杨晓峰), physician, Linyi People's Hospital: +86-159-53959186