Forced organ harvesting of political prisoners in China was first exposed in 2006 in a short undercover investigative clip by the BBC (see below), but it wasn’t until recently that this horrifying practice started to get the full attention of filmmakers. In 2014, director Leon Lee released Human Harvest, in which he filmed two Nobel Prize winners soberly and carefully investigating the question of Chinese organ harvesting. Their unhappy conclusion — that China is indeed harvesting live prisoners on a “just in time” basis — gave intellectual gravitas to the human rights campaign to stop this practice. A second documentary, Hard to Believe, was made in 2015 backing them up. It aired on PBS and won numerous awards. The latest film to cover this subject, The Bleeding Edge, is a narrative film.
Hard to Believe | Forced organ harvesting of political prisoners by the Chinese government is exposed through extensive interviews of those involved.
“This documentary is extremely important for those involved in organ donation and transplantation, human rights, healthcare, ethics, and the law…The credentials of the interviewed experts are impeccable.”
–Journal of Bioethical Inquiry
An undercover BBC investigation reveals that the Chinese government is harvesting prisoners on a “just in time” basis for forced organ transplants. This is one of the earlier investigations to reveal what was happening.
Human Harvest | Two Nobel Prize winners investigate the forced organ harvesting trade in China and uncover one of the world’s worst crimes against humanity.
“Like a mystery novel with a devastating denouement, Leon Lee’s documentary starts with numbers that don’t add up and divines an unthinkable explanation. China had no organ-donation system until 2010, yet it’s now the one place in the world where a person can get a heart and lung transplant in less than a week.”
Warning: Trailer is shows reenactments of graphic violence.
The Bleeding Edge | When a young tech wiz discovers that the heart transplant he got in China was taken from a prisoner in a forced organ “donation,” he risks his life to save the next victims of China’s organ harvesting program.
“You could use many words to describe The Bleeding Edge: chilling, disturbing, powerful, courageous, moving. It’s a film that stays with you after the end, not only because it’s a story well told, but because the horrors it describes are happening right now. Normally we learn about such atrocities well after socialist governments collapse, when the hidden truth is finally revealed in a giant pit of emaciated bodies or when some death camp survivor writes a best-selling book. This time it’s real-time.”
“Doctors and medical students working in state-run civilian and military hospitals take up to 11,000 organs a year from donors under no anesthetic to supply China’s lucrative ‘organs on-demand’ transplant program, say a network of investigators comprised of international researchers, doctors and human rights lawyers attempting to end the macabre abuses.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: China’s gruesome live organ harvest exposed in documentary
“In an effort to increase the chances of successful transplant, Gutmann writes, the organs are often taken from prisoners while they are still alive. Gutmann estimates that to date, more than 64,000 Falun Gong practitioners have suffered this fate, with more being added to the count every day.”
NY Post: China’s long history of harvesting organs from living political foes
“Phone interviews by David Kilgour and David Matas revealed that in 17 locations in China, organs were procured from detained Falun Gong practitioners. This suggests that forced organ harvesting in China is a widespread, systematic, state-sanctioned atrocity.”
–DAFOH: Doctors Against Forced iOrgan Harvesting
“Mass murder is alive and well. That is the stark conclusion of this comprehensive investigation into the Chinese state’s secret program to get rid of political dissidents while profiting from the sale of their organs–in many cases to Western recipients. Based on interviews with top-ranking police officials and Chinese doctors who have killed prisoners on the operating table, veteran China analyst Ethan Gutmann has produced a riveting insider’s account–culminating in a death toll that will shock the world.”
–Book: The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret…
“It’s a story straight out of a horror movie, but it’s been common practice in China for more than a decade. State-run hospitals have secretly harvested body parts from tens of thousands of prisoners, removing their vital organs while they are still alive.”
News.com.au: China’s other big business: Harvesting organs from prisoners when they’re still alive
“One doctor, who spoke anonymously because he still practices in China, vividly described a scene in 1992…his surgical task, to remove the liver and the kidneys from a man who had just been executed by a shot through the heart, was technically simple but emotionally complicated by the mark of a wire around the man’s neck, indicating that the police had forcibly prevented this particular man from speaking up in court.”
–World Affairs: Bitter Harvest: China’s ‘Organ Donation’ Nightmare
“Allegations surfaced in 2006 that the disappeared were being killed for their organs which were sold for large sums mostly to foreign transplant tourists. It is generally accepted that China kills prisoners for organs. The debate is over whether the prisoners who are killed are only criminals sentenced to death or Falun Gong practitioners as well. The authors produced a report concluding that the allegations were true.”
–Book: Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China
“When reports first emerged from China in 2006 that state-run hospitals were killing prisoners of conscience to sell their organs, it seemed too horrible to be true. However, a new documentary is about to blow the lid on the illegal organ trade that is now allegedly worth a staggering US$1 billion a year. This despite the fact 10,000 organs are transplanted in China every year, yet there are only a tiny number of people on the official donor register.”
–Daily Mail: A Human Harvest: China’s organ trafficking exposed in shocking documentary that alleges the illegal trade is now worth a staggering US$1 billion a year
“Among the eyewitnesses cited by Lee are a Chinese police officer who claims to have seen organs harvested from a woman who was tortured and raped for days, before she was mutilated without anesthetic, and the wife of a doctor said to have extracted the corneas of some 2,000 patients while they were still alive. She alleges that some of the victims were subsequently burned alive after the cornea extractions, and that the Chinese government tried to assassinate her husband after he fled from his grisly job.”
–Breitbart: Report: China harvests organs from live prisoners
“China’s organ transplant numbers are second only to the United States. Unlike any other country, virtually all Chinese organs for transplants come from prisoners. Many of these are prisoners of conscience. The killing of prisoners for their organs is a plain breach of the most basic medical ethics.”
–Book: State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China