Taiwan Association for International Care of Organ Transplants (TAICOT) was established in 2006. In the same year, “the great crime of the 21st century”—forced live organ harvesting from non-consenting innocents by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—was exposed leaving the entire world appalled. Constrained by unequal disclosure of information, Taiwanese patients have traveled overseas for organ transplants, nearly 90% of them to Mainland China and the numbers peaking during 2001 and 2006. Until now, there are still Taiwanese patients going to China as transplant tourists. The medical risks that transplant tourism entails are not fully disclosed. Compelled by their own or their family’s strong desire to stay alive, patients often fail to thoroughly and accurately access the risks and end up with irreversible decisions they later regret.
With the mission to safeguard transplant ethics, TAICOT has urged the Taiwanese government and all parties concerned to make imperative openness and transparency of information to reduce risks and amend the existing legislation and system to comply with international trends and standards. The latter includes expanding the organ donation system and amending The Human Organ Transplantation Act（The Act）to criminally ban transplant tourism. In July 2014, Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs was passed in Europe. A year apart, Taiwan also successfully passed the amended Human Organ Transplantation Act in July 2015. Taiwan’s active participation in international issues have caught attention in the international community.
In retrospect, passage of the amendment to The Human Organ Transplantation Act hinges on concerted support from leaders in various fields. We’d like to express our heartfelt appreciation for all the predecessors and experts of different professions. The future further requires our alliance with one another to sound wake-up calls of justice to protect the security and dignity of patients!
Domestic Wake-up Calls from:
Professor Qiu Tai-yuan, Chairman, Taiwan Medical Association (TMA)
We have to care about the whole world. Especially, since two sides of the Strait share ancestry and cultural legacy, all the more reason we should care about each other. When opportunities present themselves, whichever aspect it may be, I will definitely stand by you to continue working towards the good.
Professor Huang Song-li, Vice-superintendent, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University
“We should have the position in writing while we are thinking about it rationally as the TMA’s clear statement on the issue so that doctors have a definite guiding principle: Under no circumstances should they in any way encourage patients to go to China for organ transplants.”
Professor Wu-Shou Chang, Secretary General, The Association of Asia-Pacific Health Legacy
“What we are doing (advocating amending The Act in Taiwan) is ahead of our era and the whole world.” Professor Chang also suggested that the passage and prospects of the amended Act be incorporated into the agenda of the upcoming World Medical Association (WMA) General Assembly 2016 in Taipei to demonstrate Taiwan’s achievements.
Tian Qiu-jin, Former Legislator (2005-2016)
Ms. Tian, as the principal sponsor of the amendment to The Act, finally saw it passed in the Legislative Yuan after two years of sustained hard work and numerous negotiations. She indicated passage of the amended Act not only serves as guarantee for those on the wait list for organs but also marks a significant success for Taiwan as flag-bearer of human rights.
Yu Mei-Nu, Legislator
“We encourage everyone to spread love by donating organs to those in need. On the other hand, we also ban illegal organ trade and organ harvesting.”
Dr. Zhi-zhong Zhou, Deputy Magistrate, Changhwa County
“Having organ transplants overseas easily gives rise to problems such as organ trade, questionable organ source, even unidentified infection or infectious disease. It is a grave violation against human rights and ethics.
Dr. Zhi-hong Tsai, Chairman, Changhua Medical Alliance
“The film [Human Harvest] takes a more pragmatic approach to the issue, gets to the bottom of it, and lets the whole world know about it, so that many countries are brought face to face with the issue. Many righteous people worldwide are willing to step up for it.”
Dr. Zhang Qi-zhong, Chairman, Medical Professionals Alliance in Taichung
“They [The Chinese Communist Party] have gone too far. With money as bait, that is no longer political intervention but rather utilizing people’s acquisitive nature under capitalism to pursue profit. As a result, people buy organs and more people get killed. This must not happen. Indeed a few of my patients did this, if possible I definitely try my best to talk them out of it."
International Wake-up Calls from:
Paula Flisnik, 2015-2016 District Governor, Lions Club District 20-Y2 in New York
Paula Flisnik (second from right), 2015-2016 District Governor, Lions Club District 20-Y2
“Every member of the Lions Club, being a humanitarian, should utilize his/her influence in the community to stop the forced organ harvesting—not just those in New York State but also everyone in the world.”
Dr. Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of WMA
Dr. Otmar Kloiber (second from right), Secretary General of WMA
WMA has long closely watched the issues of using organs from death-row prisoners and prisoners of conscience by the CCP. In 2014, TAICOT representatives visited Dr. Kloiber in Geneva and had a two-hour talk with him. During the talk, he emphasized the significant role Taiwan could play and further supported our proposal in the WMA and advocacy of realizing the spirit of Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs (The Convention) by countries worldwide. In 2015, Huang Jiefu, former Deputy Health Minister and Chairman of the National Health and Family Planning Commission’s Human Organ and Transplant Committee in China, argued, “Death row prisoners are also citizens…. Once the organs from death row prisoners who have voluntarily donated are included in our national distribution system, they are counted as voluntary citizen donations.” During his interview with the New York Times, Dr. Kloiber directly pointed out Huang’s announcement as “an administrative trick.” Huang simply relabeled prisoners as citizens to include them in a new Chinese nationwide “citizen donation” system. Dr. Kloiber also strongly condemned the practice in China as “unethical.”
Dr. Patrick Bouet, President of The French National Medical Council (CNOM)
Dr. Xavier Deau, 2014-2015 President of WMA
Dr. Patrick Bouet (center), President of The French National Medical Council (CNOM); Dr. Xavier Deau (second from left), former President of WMA
In 2014, TAICOT co-organized an international symposium with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Europe and achieved fruitful results. Dr. Patrick Bouet and Dr. Xavier Deau expressed their full support for TAICOT’s efforts to expose and stop the grave transplant abuse and later published articles to call on doctors in European and French-speaking countries to concern themselves with the issue.
Dr. Vincenzo Costigliola, President of the European Medical Association (EMA)
Dr. Vincenzo Costigliola (sitting at the front), President of the European Medical Association (EMA)
Dr. Costigliola expressed steadfast support for the Convention criminally banning organ trade and emphasized that forced organ harvesting is definitely unacceptable and such violation against medical ethics must never be tolerated.
Roland Kerzmann, President of European Council of Medical Orders (CEOM)
The CEOM is deeply concerned with the issue of organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in China and would like to reiterate its firm opposition to the unethical practice.
Dr. Robert M. Wah, 2014-2015 Chairman of American Medical Association (AMA)
In his letter to TAICOT, Dr. Wah expressed deep concern with especially the existing forced organ harvesting and illegal organ transplantation in China among others on the international scene. Dr. Wah reiterated AMA’s consistent opposition to any transplant practice in violation of the fundamental principles of medical ethics. He concluded at the end of the letter that AMA would continue monitoring the situation in Mainland China.
Dr. Fumimaro Takaku, President of The Japanese Association of Medical Sciences (JAMS)
Dr. Fumimaro Takaku (right), President of The Japanese Association of Medical Sciences (JAMS) and Dr. Chian-Feng Huang of TAICOT
During the Japan Medical Congress 2015, Dr. Takaku received an interview after giving his speech. Upon hearing forced live organ harvesting committed by the CCP, Dr. Takaku immediately pointed out it is a grave violation against medical ethics. Japan has worked hard to relax limitations on domestic organ donation and prohibit Japanese nationals from traveling to Mainland China for organ transplants. In April 2016, Dr. Takaku met with Dr. Chian-Feng Huang, Director of TAICOT, in the JAMS office and expressed hearty approval for TAICOT’s achievements. They further discussed details about co-hosting an international symposium in Japan to promote organ donation and eliminate illegal transplant tourism.
Dr. Shiro Takahara, 2014-2015 President of The Japan Society for Transplantation
Dr. Shiro Takahara, former President of The Japan Society for Transplantation
“Efforts made by the government and the medical community are equally important in establishing a comprehensive organ transplantation system. Taiwan’s transplantation technology ranks among the highest in the world and has more brain-dead donors than Japan. Taiwan is a rather advanced country in terms of medical technology. Self-sufficiency is imperative; I think we should stop patients from receiving organ transplants in China.”