Friday, September 8, 2006
Session 7: Public Comments
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Now we move into the last part of our program, the opportunity for members of the audience to ask a question or make a statement.
I have only one person who has requested the possibility of speaking. And that is Dr. Torsten Trey, representing Falun Gong. And I will ask Dr. Trey to speak and be aware of the fact that there is a time limit. I hope that has been made clear to you. I'm sure it has by Dan. We are delighted to hear from you and anything you want to submit in terms of written material later we welcome.
DR. TREY: Thank you very much. I will try to be fast.
DR. TREY: My name is Torsten Trey. I am a medical doctor with a German background. I would like to address some comments on organ transplantation's policies that the Council has discussed earlier. And the reason is that transplantation medicine has developed into a global business. This requires that we, among other things, look after an international ethical standard for transplantation.
Some countries don't follow such standards. I would like to express my concerns about the legal transportation practices in China. You may have heard about the systematic organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.
The recent report of Kilgour and Matas is a thorough investigation, which provides significant hints that organs are systematically removed from living Falun Gong practitioners, of course, without their consent. The victims were procured for transplantation reasons.
One Falun Gong inmate mentioned that after an injection of an unknown substance, she experienced a tachycardia and a burning sensation in the arm. This may indicate that potassium was injected to the victims in order to cause heart failure before surgeons removed the organs.
A few days ago, Dai Ying from Norway, whose eyes were shocked to blindness with electric buttons in a Chinese detention center, described what she witnessed, "One day in May 2004, all of approximately 160 Falun Gong practitioners were gathered in a conference hall. All equipment brought from a Fushan hospital was set up in a bus. Doctors from the hospital conducted forceful physical examinations and injected an injection of all the Falun Gong practitioners.
"When a doctor did an electrocardiogram from me, he asked me in detail whether I had anything wrong with my health. Blood was drawn from each practitioner. After the examination, some practitioners disappeared. And nobody knew where they went."
In July I attended the World Transplant Congress in Boston. I had the opportunity to talk to a Chinese transplant surgeon from Tianjin City. We talked about liver transplantations. He said that his hospital is one of three hospitals that performs liver transplantations in Tianjin City. He further said that in his hospital alone, they would perform 2,000 liver transplantations per year.
In comparison, in the entire country of Germany, with a population of 80 million people, there are approximately 700 liver transplantations per year; in Argentina, only 200 per year.
The number of liver transplantations in Tianjin City is even more concerning if we take into consideration that the Asian population is traditionally reluctant to donate organs. So I wonder where all of these organs come from.
The Kilgour report provides an additional 18 significant hints about this unethical malpractice. This practice is not only inhuman but anti-human.
I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Kilgour in Boston. Many attendees of the World Transplant Congress listened to his presentation and were shocked about his data.
In fact, after his presentation, a huge amount of posters about transplantation findings generated in China, according to an attendee of WTC, at least 40 posters, didn't show up in the poster section. At this point it is not clear if these posters were withdrawn because the findings may have been generated through illegal organ harvesting or the authors didn't want to expose their transplantation numbers.
The data about organ harvesting and simultaneously increasing the number of transplantation in the recent years in China should be concerning to all medical professionals.
The malpractice in China can undermine the trust of our patients in transplantation, let alone of a new type of phobia related to the received organs in the patients.
In the growing global transplantation medicine, we cannot turn a blind eye to China's malpractice. We should realize that the Chinese government uses our medical profession as part of the persecution of Falun Gong.
Seventy years ago we faced the situation with Germany when the Nazi dictatorship used medical staff, like Dr. Mengele, in the Auschwitz concentration camp to perform medical experiments on Jewish inmates.
Due to the courageous stance of the U.S. government and the Allies, fortunately, the systematic killing was stopped. But, unfortunately, six million Jews were already killed before the intervention.
We don't know how many Falun Gong practitioners have already lost their lives due to the persecution in China and due to the organ harvesting. But with approximately 70 million Falun Gong practitioners in China, we should take it seriously.
The chronicles will observe our acting and will assess our ethical stance. Financial interests without ethical values will not last long.
When the U.S. government took a stand against the Holocaust, it has established a reputation of justice in the whole world. It may be once more time to refresh the justice by speaking up against the illegal organ harvesting in China. I believe at this time the medical professionals worldwide are requested to speak up as well.
Coming Thursday, September 14th, Mr. Kilgour will be in Washington, D.C. to present his data. Please feel free to come to his presentation or invite him to your institution or the NIH so that more and more people and medical professionals will be able to take a stand. The Twenty-Firth Century requires a high moral and ethical standard in the medical profession worldwide.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you very much.
Are there questions the members of the Council would like to put to Dr. Trey? I'm sorry. Do we have a second? Question first for Dr. Trey?
DR. EBERSTADT: Could I ask you a question, Dr. Trey? Where will Dr. Kilgour be making his presentation and when on the 14th of September?
DR. TREY: We are still in the process to organize, to finalize the date and the time and the location. Most likely it will be in the Congressional Building. But I have my telephone number and e-mail address. I could send the detailed information later.
MS. YANG: I am sorry. I just want to add a few things from a Chinese perspective following Mr. Trey's comment. I am originally from China. Actually, I have friends who have been tortured to death in China's labor camp because he refused to sign a paper from the Chinese government saying that he would give up his practice. I also have several friends who have been missing in the past few years. And family don't know where they are.
That's why after reading the report from Mr. Kilgour and the two Canadian investigators who released their report this July — I am sorry.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Take your time.
MS. YANG: I am very worried for my friends here. Actually, the story about the live organ harvesting from practitioners was — first, it broke out in Chinese media here in the United States early this year, in March.
And following that, I noticed an article by Knight Ridder Beijing correspondent Tim Johnson. He interviewed somebody who was doing organ transplant in China. And this businessman is from Pakistan. According to him, about every nation is here. There isn't one single hospital in Tianjin, said he. There are Korean, Japanese, Arabs, the whole Persian Gulf region. There are a few guys from Israel as well.
I also know that lots of Americans go to China for organ transplant because you know the waiting time here is — it takes time to wait for an organ matching you, but in China, the official Web site even advertised, "Come. You can get a kidney in two weeks or a month." How can they promise in that way?
The only explanation is that they have a large live organ bank somewhere. That's why I hope everyone do something to help. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Does anyone want to make a comment or question? And could I have your name for the —
MS. YANG: Sorry. If you want more information, I do have the Web site, where you can download the report by the two Canadian investigators. One is the human rights lawyer. The other is a former Canadian Parliament member. I read the report. It is really good, well-done.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Could I have your name for the transcript? I'm sorry.
MS. YANG: My name is Ms. Yang. Is that okay? It's spelled as Y-a-n-g, last name.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you very much. Question? Yes?
PROF. GEORGE: Yes. Thank you, both, for those very, very important contributions.
Dr. Pellegrino and Dr. Davis, in the report that we will be going forward with, I gather, or likely go forward with on organ transplantation, will we be addressing the issue of travel to China for organ transplantation? Is that something that the staff has looked into thus far? I mean, it's been put on the table here, but, of course, it's also something that has been written about in the press.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Dan, do you want to respond to that administratively?
DR. DAVIS: We are going to be meeting with David Kilgour next week to talk with him about his report. And in Sam's policy paper, there is some mention of that. Robby, you may not have been here for the meeting when this came up on the periphery of the discussion about markets. And the argument was that if we had markets in this country, we would not be forcing Americans to go abroad.
So I think certainly it will arise within the context of that discussion. How thoroughly we treat it we'll have to see as yet, but yes, we will be dealing with that.
PROF. GEORGE: Good. Thank you, Dan.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: If there are no other comments, again, I want to thank the members of the Council for their participation, particularly this morning. I think it was most productive.
And I want to thank the speakers, particularly Dr. Wexler, this afternoon and also those who have made the public presentations. You have brought an extraordinarily important problem before us. Thank you very much.
(Whereupon, the foregoing matter was concluded at 12:05 p.m.)