The Tianjin First Central Hospital. (mapio.net)
A foreign patient receives a life-extending organ transplant in a Chinese hospital. Feeling grateful, he asks a hospital staff member who the donor was so that he may give thanks and repayment.
But no one at the hospital—not even the transplant doctor—knows the donor’s identity.
Before his flight home, the patient is issued an official transplantation document. He finally learns the identity of his life-giver: A 30-year-old male death row convict. Coincidentally, all the other transplant patients received organs from healthy, 30-year-old executed prisoners. Only their names differ.
A correspondent who identified him or herself as having worked at the Tianjin First Central Hospital in the mid-2000s recently recounted the above episode and other oddities in a personal statement provided to New Tang Dynasty Television.
Below is a translation of the statement, edited for brevity and clarity.
I’m currently living in mainland China. Once, I worked at the organ transplant center in Tianjin First Central Hospital. What I’ve learned could perhaps serve as a rare warning to those who persist in persecuting Falun Gong. It’s also a cautionary tale for my fellow countrymen with a conscience.
When China was welcoming large numbers of foreign organ transplant patients, I stepped into Tianjin First Central Hospital’s organ transplant center on the seventh floor. I managed to get a job at the transplant center through a recommendation.
Tianjin First Central Hospital was then also known as the Orient Organ Transplant Center because it handled large volumes of organ transplant patients and was located in China. Today, this hospital is still the largest center in Asia.
The world of organ brokers is a black box — but from my contact with that world, I’ve figured out that there are a number of channels for people to learn about or get organs.
One channel is through middlemen. A well-known South Korean doctor with one of the biggest hospitals in South Korea would introduce his patients to a middleman. This middleman would then refer these patients to the Tianjin hospital.
There is no diplomatic arrangement for organ transplantation between China and South Korea. Rather, intermediaries belonging to Mafia-like syndicates cut transplant deals.
Many of the foreign transplant patients came to China looking for a liver or kidney. The bulk of these foreigners were South Koreans, while the rest came from Japan or Taiwan.
Foreign doctors are another channel for organ transplants. Because there was a shortage of transplant doctors in China, an unnamed hospital hired a South Korean doctor on high wages. This South Korean doctor told me that his peers in China held two household registration (hukou) credentials—one South Korean, and one Chinese—and that he is a legal Chinese citizen. I don’t know how much Chinese blood these dual-national South Korean doctors have on their hands.
A third channel is Chinese commercials. These ads feature famous Chinese celebrities, and serve to deceive and entice potential patients. A South Korean patient I keep in touch said that his countrymen flocked to China after watching an organ transplant advertisement starring Chinese actor Fu Biao.
On Aug. 26, 2004, Fu Biao checked into Beijing’s 309 Hospital for a check-up. The following day, he was diagnosed with liver cancer. On Sept. 2, Fu received a liver transplant at the General Hospital of the People’s Armed Police in Beijing.
The chief surgeon operating on Fu was Dr. Shen Zhongyang, a man hailed by the Chinese media as China’s “top scalpel.” Dr. Shen had headed the organ transplant research institute at the People’s Armed Police Hospital and the Orient Organ Transplant Center in Tianjin First Central Hospital.