Forced Or­gan Har­vest­ing

The Global Digest (English) - - Contents - By Staff Cor­re­spon­dent

The In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Eth­i­cal Or­gan Trans­plants or­ga­nized the Forced Or­gan Har­vest­ing Con­fer­ence at the Sen­ate Build­ing in the Na­tional As­sem­bly in Seoul on Fe­bru­ary 22, 2013. Many hu­man rights ac­tivists, med­i­cal doc­tors and lawyers at­tended the con­fer­ence, as well as some wit­nesses.

China has been found to be the lead­ing coun­try in forced or­gan har­vest­ing with ap­prox­i­mately 70,000 or­gan trans­plants per year. It costs ap­prox­i­mately $62,000 for an or­gan. In China, or­gans are not com­monly re­ceived through do­na­tion but rather through the ex­e­cu­tion of pris­on­ers. Th­ese pris­on­ers, in­clud­ing per­sons from the Falun­gong re­li­gion, Ti­betan per­sons and other pris­on­ers, dis­ap­pear with­out trial. In 1999, China had 150 or­gan trans­plant cen­ters. By 2005, or­gan trans­port cen­ters had in­creased to 600. Since de­mand is so high from around the world, peo­ple can get eas­ily re­ceive an or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion in China, but don’t they don’t know the source of the or­gans? It is a kind of state-in­volved mur­der. When­ever an or­gan trans­plant takes place, some­one is ex­e­cuted as ca­su­ally as killing a chicken. Ev­ery day, ap­prox­i­mately 20 per­sons die by lethal in­jec­tion.

At the con­fer­ence, spe­cial speaker Prof. Ja­cob Lavee pre­sented on “the im­pact of the use of or­gans from ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers in China on the new Or­gan Trans­plan­ta­tion Law in Is­rael.” Lavee is the di­rec­tor of the Heart Trans­plan­ta­tion Unit at the Le­viev Heart Cen­ter of the Sheba Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Ra­mat Gan, Is­rael; a mem­ber of the Sackler Fac­ulty of Medicine, Tel Aviv Univer­sity, Tel Aviv, Is­rael; Is­rael Na­tional Trans­plant Cen­ter, Min­istry of Health, Tel Aviv, Is­rael; and Doc­tors Against Forced Or­gan Har­vest­ing (DAFOH) – Ad­vi­sory Board mem­ber.

Back­ground

In 2005, a new phe­nom­e­non was re­vealed in Is­rael. Can­di­dates for heart trans­plants were of­fered their trans­plants in China on a presched­uled date and did, in fact, re­ceive them on those dates. With the non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion DAFOH, founded in 2007, ev­i­dence was then gath­ered which clearly showed the grue­some sys­tem­atic sale and use of the or­gans of ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers and pris­on­ers of con­science for or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion. Trans­plant tourism from Is­rael to China flour­ished the fol­low­ing three years due to a per­sis­tently low or­gan do­na­tion rate in Is­rael. Th­ese lower do­na­tion rates were the re­sult of cul­tural and reli­gious ob­jec­tions to­ward the recog­ni­tion of brain death among parts of so­ci­ety com­bined with the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of ac­cept­ing or­gans for trans­plant af­ter ques­tion­able deaths, as well as the gen­er­ous re­im­burse­ment of trans­plant tourism by in­sur­ance com­pa­nies re­gard­less of the le­gal­ity of the trans­plant op­er­a­tion per­formed abroad (mainly in

China). A unique new Or­gan Trans­plan­ta­tion Law, drafted to counter-bal­ance th­ese phe­nom­ena, and a law defin­ing brain death de­ter­mi­na­tion, have now made a marked im­pact on the Is­raeli or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion scene.

Meth­ods

In March 2008, Is­rael’s Par­lia­ment passed into leg­is­la­tion two laws rel­e­vant to or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion: (A) The Brain Death Law, which de­fines the pre­cise cir­cum­stances and mech­a­nisms to de­ter­mine brain death and (B) The Or­gan Trans­plan­ta­tion Law, which in­cludes sev­eral unique clauses: (1) To­tally ban­ning the re­im­burse­ment of trans­plants per­formed abroad if they are per­formed un­der the def­i­ni­tions of or­gan trade or against lo­cal laws; (2) Grant­ing pri­or­i­ti­za­tion in or­gan al­lo­ca­tion to can­di­dates for or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion who have either been reg­is­tered as or­gan donors for at least three years prior to be­ing listed as can­di­dates, have been live kid­ney or liver-lobe donors or have given their con­sent for ac­tual or­gan do­na­tion of their de­ceased next-of-kin and (3) Re­mov­ing dis­in­cen­tives for liv­ing do­na­tion by pro­vid­ing mod­est in­sur­ance re­im­burse­ment and some sup­port­ive so­cial ser­vices. Fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive multi-me­dia cam­paign, the im­pact of the grad­ual im­ple­men­ta­tion of th­ese new laws has fi­nally been wit­nessed in the 2011 an­nual re­sults of Is­rael’s Na­tional Trans­plant Cen­ter.

Re­sults

In 2011, there were 89 de­ceased or­gan donors com­pared to 60 in 2010, which rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the or­gan do­na­tion rate (7.8 donors per mil­lion in pop­u­la­tion to 11.4 donors per mil­lion). In 2011, 267 or­gan trans­plants from de­ceased donors were per­formed com­pared to 157 in 2010. The con­sent rate for or­gan do­na­tion from de­ceased donors rose from 49 per­cent in 2010 to 55 per­cent in 2011. The monthly num­ber of new reg­is­tered donors rose from an av­er­age of 2,889 in the years 1998 to 2010 to a monthly av­er­age of 6,273 in 2011, rep­re­sent­ing an in­crease in reg­is­tered donors from 10 to 12 per­cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion. Kid­ney trans­plants from liv­ing donors rose markedly from 71 in 2010 to 117 in 2011. The an­nual num­ber of pa­tients who un­der­went a kid­ney trans­plant abroad sharply dropped from 155 in 2006 to an all­time low of 35 in 2011. Trans­plant tourism from Is­rael to China came to a com­plete halt. In par­al­lel, in 2012 DAFOH ran a pe­ti­tion which gen­er­ated 250,000 sig­na­tures in the U.S., Europe and Aus­tralia, ask­ing the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil to in­ves­ti­gate un­eth­i­cal or­gan har­vest­ing in China. DAFOH di­rec­tors tes­ti­fied be­fore the U.S. Congress and at a hear­ing in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

Con­clu­sions

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new Is­raeli Or­gan Trans­plan­ta­tion Law, along with the Brain Death Law, has re­sulted in a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in or­gan trans­plants both from de­ceased donors, by pri­or­i­tiz­ing hold­ers of donor cards, and from liv­ing donors, by re­mov­ing dis­in­cen­tives for liv­ing do­na­tion. In ad­di­tion, trans­plant tourism from Is­rael to China was brought to a com­plete halt by ban­ning its re­im­burse­ment.

Con­fer­ence or­ga­niz­ers and Prof. Ja­cob Lavee(R)

Tes­ti­mony from wit­nesses at the Na­tional As­sem­bly Build­ing

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