Two Australian researchers are calling for the removal of hundreds of Chinese studies that allegedly used organs taken from prisoners without their consent.
"The omerta around this barbarity must stop." In an article published in the medical journal BMJ Open, two Australian researchers at the University of Sidney claim the withdrawal of more than 400 scientific studies that allegedly used organs harvested from Chinese prisoners without their consent.
By examining 445 studies published between 2000 and 2017 on organ transplants in China, Wendy Rogers and Matthew Robertson realized that 92% of them did not mention the origin of the organs. In 99% of cases, donor consent was not mentioned. Many reports have shown that the Chinese authorities have taken organs from tens of thousands of executed prisoners, so the researchers concluded that hundreds of studies had been based on unethical transplants.
"Many credible accounts suggest that organ harvesting is not limited to convicted prisoners, but also includes prisoners of conscience. It is therefore possible - even if it is not verifiable in a specific case - that scientific articles contain data obtained via prisoners killed for their organs, "explain Wendy Rogers and Matthew Robertson in Newsweek.
No official law prohibits the transplantation of organs of prisoners
In 2016, a report by lawyer David Kilgour and journalist Ethan Gutmann had already highlighted a huge gap between official data and that of hospitals. Indeed, while the Chinese government ensures that 10,000 transplants take place each year, hospital data show that between 60,000 and 100,000 organs are transplanted each year.
Then, the following year, the medical journal Liver International had to withdraw a study published by Chinese surgeons after the origins of the organs used were challenged by academics.
Although China has sworn to have stopped using organs taken from executed prisoners in 2015, no law or ban has been passed on the subject and Chinese research directors are not accountable to anyone, worries Rogers and Robertson.
An independent people's court has been investigating the matter since December
"We call for the immediate withdrawal of all studies that cite research based on organs of executed prisoners, as well as the organization of an international summit to develop a new approach to Chinese transplant research," demanded they therefore. "It's not enough to have ethical principles, you need laws," says Rogers. Guardian Australia.
In December, an independent People's Court began investigating the matter. "The members of the tribunal are all certain that in China, the organ harvesting of prisoners took place for a long time and involved a substantial number of victims," he had decided after three days of public hearings. Its conclusion will be made during the year 2019.