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U Forum Examines Organ Harvesting from Prisoners

NotoGilcrease.jpg
Dan Bammes
Dr. Damon Noto (L) and Dr. Weldon Gilcrease (R) took part in the Hinckley Institute forum on organ harvesting

  Activists who want to stop the use of organs taken from executed prisoners in China held a forum at the University of Utah Friday.

Doctor Damon Noto is a pain specialist from New Jersey.  He’s a member of the group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, and he’s one of the speakers at a forum sponsored by the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

He says organs are taken from as many as ten thousand prisoners a year in China for transplants, sometimes for patients who travel to China just for that purpose.  People who hear about it are often skeptical, but he says many of those cases come to light when the patients return to their home countries for follow-up care.

Dr. Noto tells KUER, “The medical community and the transplant community, especially, had really [been] thinking something bad was going on, but then it kept mounting, mounting, mounting and now, overwhelmingly, the transplant community is on board.  They believe this is absolutely happening and it’s an atrocity.”

Doctor Weldon Gilcrease, an oncologist from Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute, says the United States and other countries need to put pressure on China to stop the practice.

“We could try to raise awareness, so that patients that could potentially go over for organ tourism, we could try to stop those patients," Dr. Gilcrease said in an interview.  "Other things that can be done, I think, would be to not allow research that’s published on transplantation coming out of China to be published in our journals.”

Activists say many of the prisoners whose organs are taken after their executions have been members of the Falun Gong religious group, which is banned in China.

The practice has also raised concerns within China.  China’s vice-minister of health told the Wall Street Journal in 2012 that his country plans to abolish the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners within five years.

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