CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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Chinese at Vatican talks accused of organ harvesting

HONG KONG (UCAN): The presence of two Chinese health officials at a February 7 and 8 Vatican summit on organ transplants that sparked sharp criticism, are now being accused of forced organ harvesting by international medical experts.

Huang Jiefu, a former vice minister of health in China, and Wang Haibo, an official responsible for the national organ transplant database, attended the summit organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Wang Zhiyuan, a China-trained doctor and now a researcher based in the United States of America, said that both men have been heavily involved in organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China.

“We have a lot of evidence that they were involved in illegal organ harvesting,” Wang, who is president of the World Organisation to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong and a past research scientist at Harvard Medical School, said.

Huang is a liver surgeon and the official spokesperson for the nation’s organ transplant system, which has been dogged by consistent reports that it harvests organs from death-row prisoners, religious and ethnic minorities such as the Uyghur and Tibetans, as well as Christians from unregistered Churches and primarily the Falun Gong.

Wang Zhiyuan said that during a liver transplant operation in 2005, Huang ordered two spare livers as a backup. That surgery and post-surgery observation took nearly 40 hours.

However, he explained that clinical technology requires a liver transplant to be completed within 15 hours, but if they could keep them for 40 hours, it means the organs were harvested from living people.

His claims about Huang were backed up in an editorial co-authored by Wendy Rogers, a clinical ethicist from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and Jacob Lavee, a respected Israeli transplant surgeon.

It was published online by the e medical journal The BMP on February 7, just as the talks began at the Vatican.

As an incumbent standing committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Huang is the first top Chinese official to participate in a Vatican summit.

“It was an insult that the Vatican summit has become a tool for China to whitewash its crimes,” Wang Zhiyuan said.

In the lead up to the summit, his organisation wrote to Pope Francis urging him not to allow Chinese representatives to participate in the summit.

Enver Tohti, an ethnic Uyghur who fled to England after he participated in organ harvesting as a surgeon in the west of China during the 1990s, was one of the signaotires of another letter from 10 medical ethicists and professionals opposing Huang’s attendance.

“Organ harvesting is now so rampant in China that they can provide a kidney in four hours. This is ethically unexplainable,” Enver Tohti noted.

He said that the summit has given China an opportunity to avoid charges of organ harvesting and that the summit is tainted by money and vested interests.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, defended China’s participation.

“Are they doing any illegal transplantation of organs in China? We can’t say. But we want to strengthen the movement for change,” the bishop was quoted as saying.

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