Israel has had a significant shortage of organs available for transplant for many years, and waiting lists continue to get longer and longer.
The number of organ donors in Israel is very low and stands at less than 10 donors a year for every million people in the population, as opposed to 15-30 donors per million in Europe and the United States.
This results in more than half of Israeli patients awaiting transplants to go abroad for their transplant surgeries, mostly to China.
In a special survey which was to be published this week in the medical journal “Harefua”, director of the heart transplant unit at Sheba Medical Center Dr. Jacob Lavee spoke against the transplants performed in China and defined them as “crimes against humanity”.
The reason for his condemnation of the surgeries was that about 90 percent of the transplanted organs in China were taken from prisoners on death row without their consent.
'Organs removed while prisoner was alive'
The article quoted Dr. Wang Guayoki, a Chinese doctor who escaped China and sought political refuge in the United States. He described before a committee of the House of Representatives how he removed skin and corneas from the bodies of over 100 prisoners who were executed in Chinese prisons.
He explained that the “donors” receive a special injection which prevents their blood from clotting and aids in preserving their organs. The execution team shoots the prisoners in the head while a medical staff stands by in order to remove the organs meant for transplants.
Dr. Guayoki recounted a particularly shocking case where kidneys were removed from a prisoner while he was still alive due to a faulty execution. Other testimonies brought before congress confirmed other such cases.
In recent months, Israel’s Health Ministry ordered HMO’s to ensure that transplants performed abroad were only done at accredited institutions. Concurrently, China’s Health Minister announced that buying and selling of organs was not permitted, and that all organ donations be consented by the donor.
Still, doctors say that Israeli patients continue to travel to China in search of new organs.
“It goes without saying that the distress of patients in Israel waiting for transplants is great, but one’s distress doesn’t justify committing a crime on another,” Dr. Lavee said.