Is there any solid evidence that any country's government has been engaged in and has been proven to have farmed human organs for sale on the black market?

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    At a protest I saw next to Santa Monica Pier, practitioners of Falun Gong claimed that Chinese officials who persecute them were arranging to have their organs harvested in Chinese prison. The protest consisted of a tent with a "patient" and a "doctor", with signage and handlers to chat with the public. Could there be any truth to this? If so, would this treatment of prisoners be unusual -- could a murderer or shoplifter get the same procedure? How would they know the organs will match?
    – Paul
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:52
  • @Paul, I added an answer about this claim below.
    – David
    Feb 8, 2012 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


There was a huge controversy towards in 2009 when Aftonbladet one of our newspapers published that the had at some point been harvesting organs of dead . At the time I personally didn't believe Aftonbladets claims as virtually all Swedish newspapers are about as good as tabloids, and it sounded like something out of the Daily Mail.

21th of August 2009 the Local reports in Israel blasts Sweden over organ harvesting report calling for the Swedish government to condemn one of it's newspapers reports. Something which is nearly unthinkable in Sweden as the newspapers are completely separate entities:

Israel has announced that it intends to lodge an official protest to Sweden over its refusal to condemn an article in a national newspaper which claimed Israeli soldiers harvest the organs of dead Palestinians.

21th of December 2009 the Local ran another article when this whole mess unraveled (to my surprise) titled Israeli military admits to organ harvesting:

Following diplomatic tensions over an August article published in Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet accusing the Israeli army of illegally harvesting the organs of Palestinians, Israel has admitted its forensic pathologists removed organs from dead bodies without consent from their families, reports the Associated Press.

Another article in the Guardian goes on to explain that the incidents happened in the 90's, and that the doctor responsible was removed from his post in 2004. As opposed to what was reported in Aftonbladet the organ-harvesting program wasn't targeting Palestinians.

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "antisemitic".

However according to the interviewer that discovered this, the organs weren't sold on the black market, instead they were taken to public hospitals as well as was sent to be used by the Israeli military, as reported by Al Jazeera:

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who conducted the interview, told Al Jazeera on Monday that Hiss had said the "body parts were used by hospitals for transplant purposes - cornea transplants. They were sent to public hospitals [for use on citizens].

So there's at least one incident where one country was performing organ harvesting that they've since admitted too. Now since Israel didn't sell the organs on the black market, this answer doesn't cover your entire question, but it seemed to me that the important part of this question was on non-consensual organ harvesting.

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    @Kit - I edited your answer to add one significant detail (contrary to the tone of Swedish press reports, the program was not aimed at Palestinians) and added a summary.
    – user5341
    Apr 12, 2011 at 17:53
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    @Kit - the summary up top comes from my experience (and business communications training) at work. Admittedly it's of less importance in a Q&A forum but still somewhat beneficial, especially in a very long answer :)
    – user5341
    Apr 12, 2011 at 21:02
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    @DVK - I'm not writing business communications, or a newspaper and I'm not trying to tell you what the answer is, I'm trying to present evidence and reach a conclusion so I think the nature if this is fairly different from your experience. I also don't like putting summaries up top because it means you can look at the conclusion and decide the answer is wrong before reading and considering the argument and evidence presented.
    – Kit Sunde
    Apr 12, 2011 at 21:22
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    Nancy Scheper-Hughes said that Israelis dealers were motivated by "greed" and "Revenge, restitution—reparation for the Holocaust." She claimed Israeli brokers said "it’s kind of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We’re going to get every single kidney and liver and heart that we can. The world owes it to us.’". Sounds like the kind of thing anti-semites say about Jews. I'm not sure she's a reliable witness. Apr 29, 2011 at 13:59
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    "Something which is nearly unthinkable in Sweden as the newspapers are completely separate entities:" - citation please? The government was happy enough to shut down a web site showing cartoons of Mohammed. (Oh, and the Scheper-Hughes quotes are from her Wikipedia article). Apr 29, 2011 at 14:05


According to this article in The Weekly Standard, Chinese prisoners are or were routinely killed for their organs. These organs are then used for medical procedures on other, presumably 'more important', people.

The article is chilling reading, and its sources appear to include Chinese doctors, officials and prisoners. According to the article, sometimes organs were harvested from living prisoners without anaesthetic.

Caveats: Wikipedia lists the Weekly Standard as a "neoconservative opinion magazine" owned by News Corp which "has never been profitable", and quotes others describing it as "redoubt of neoconservatism" and as "the neo-con bible".

I don't have any personal knowledge of the magazine's journalistic reliability; I think this article is the first and so far only one of theirs I've read. That said, I hope political bias affects opinions, not facts, even those upon which opinions are based, and the article presents its content as researched fact.

This BBC article, China announces end date for taking prisoners' organs says,

A senior Chinese official has said the country will phase out the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners from November.


In the first few years of the century, officials were still refusing to confirm reports that they used organs taken from convicted criminals for transplant operations.

But in 2006, an undercover BBC team revealed that prisoners' organs were being sold to wealthy foreign patients. China then began admitting it was, after all, using the organs.

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    I feel that this true. DAFOH organization has a good list of evidences. Amnesty international agrees: "Amnesty international estimates the number of executions is between 2,000 and 10,000 per year". Jan 27, 2014 at 21:53

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