Forced organ harvesting in China

August 28, 2015


The international association DAFOH (Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting) is fighting unethical and illegal organ harvesting. Forced organ harvesting, the removal of organs from a donor without obtaining prior free and voluntary consent, is not only a gross violation of medical ethics but also a violation of the rights to life, health and bodily integrity. DAFOH is especially focusing on China, since in that country the largest number of organs have been harvested without consent. 

Evidence collected since 2006 points out that the source of the bulk of Chinese transplant organs are prisoners of conscience, who are killed in the process of the organ extraction. An estimated 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners were victims of forced organ harvesting between 2000 and 2008. Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and exercises with a specific moral philosophy. Practioners have been persecuted by the Chinese government since 1999 as the movement is seen as a threat to national security; many members have been incarcerated. Their tissue compatibility has been systematically analyzed and stored in data banks. This process allows Chinese transplant surgeons to provide donor organs including kidney, heart, pancreas, liver, skin, and cornea on short notice.

“Purchasing organs for transplantation is ethically speaking arguable, a gray zone. However, in China, transplant medicine has crossed the line and gone beyond this gray zone. In contrast to the global phenomenon of organ trafficking where the donor stays alive, organ procurement practices in China are mostly based on the “intended death” of the donor.” (Executive Director of DAFOH, Torsten Trey, in the book States Organs, p. 18)


DAFOH is currently collecting signatures for a petition to the UN Human Rights High Commissioner, calling for an immediate end of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China. According to the association, not only Falun Gong practitioners are subject to this unethical practice, but also other minority groups in China such as Uighurs, Tibetans and Christians.

The deadline for signing the petition is 30 November 2015.

Go to the petition

More information about unethical organ harvesting

State Organs. Transplant Abuse in China. David Matas and Torsten Trey (Eds), Seraphim Editions, 2009