In China, New Evidence That Surgeons Became Executioners

By Jacob Lavee and Matthew P. Robertson

Eight doctors at the Tongji Medical College hospital in Wuhan, China, traveled 40 miles on March 18, 1994, to procure a heart from a death-row prisoner. But rather than wait until the judicial authorities had executed the prisoner, the doctors carried out the execution themselves—by heart extraction.

In a large-scale review we conducted of nearly 3,000 Chinese-language clinical reports and published in the American Journal of Transplantation, we find surgeons acknowledging such actions again and again.

The Wuhan doctors write: “When the chest of the donor was opened, the chest wall incision was pale and bloodless, and the heart was purple and beating weakly. But the heartbeat became strong immediately after tracheal intubation and oxygenation. The donor heart was extracted with an incision from the 4th intercostal sternum into the chest. . . . This incision is a good choice for field operation where the sternum cannot be sawed open without power.”

Read the full publication in The Wall Street Journal.