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Healthy People Receive Organ Transplants, One Dies

Wen Hua / Epoch Times | October 31 2006

CHINA—Recently, A medical malpractice suit was widely reported by the Chinese media. Doctors from hospitals in Shanghai and Zhenjiang City, Jiangsu Province convinced healthy people to accept joint heart and lung transplantation surgery so the surgeons could practice their skills and complete their training. The lawsuit once again brings the unethical practices of China's medical profession into the spotlight after the revelations of widespread organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners was reported in March of this year.

Free Surgery
According to a report in Southern Metropolitan News , Huang Ling, son of the deceased victim, Chen Fengying, filed the litigation, which accuses two hospitals of deceiving his mother by offering a free operation, and performing surgery on a person who did not need an organ transplant just so the surgeon could learn transplantation techniques.

Ms. Chen died at the age of 49. On March 26, 2003, she was admitted to the Tongji University Affiliated Shanghai East Hospital for treatment of coronary atherosclerotic cardiopathy and menopause.

"It was the Hospital President, Liu Zhongmin, who diagnosed my mother with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and congenital heart disease, even though there wasn't any examination, chest X-Ray, electrocardiogram, or ultrasonic cardiogram. She had never received this diagnosis at any other hospital. Huang published his mother's tragic experience on many mainland China Internet BBS sites.

According to Huang's stepfather, Liu told Ms. Chen that her cardio-pulmonary failure had reached a terminal stage and that a heart and lung transplants were the only way to save her; otherwise, she would survive no more than three months.

Huang said that the only reason his mother accepted the surgery was because she was told that if she agreed to the transplants the hospital fees, transportation costs, boarding expenses, and all other expenses would be paid by the hospital.

In the six months that followed, Ms. Chen waited in the Shanghai East Hospital for a suitable donor to be found. On September 21, 2003, Liu claimed that an organ donor had been found in Zhenjiang city, Jiangsu province. She was discharged from Shanghai East Hospital and escorted to the First People's Hospital in Zhenjiang city, Jiangsu Province by a doctor.

The doctor in charge assured Huang that the operation was 100 percent safe. They repeated many times that the success rate was 98 percent guaranteed. Just before the operation, a woman named Xu Xiaoping convinced my mother that Liu had successfully performed a heart and lung transplant on her.

On September 25, Huang received a phone call from the First People's Hospital telling him that his mother had died. He rushed to the hospital and went straight to the morgue where he saw the oxygen tube still connected to his mother's body, her thorax had been cut open, and her whole body was covered in blood. Although three years have passed, Huang still sees his mother's bloodied body in his dreams. The hospital claims that Chen died of acute rejection of the donor organs on the operating table before the surgery was completed.

The Truth
In the following three years, Huang Ling investigated the cause of his mother's death. On September 5, 2005, he went to the People's Court of Shanghai Pudong New District, to file a lawsuit against the Shanghai East Hospital (defendant one) and the First People's Hospital in Zhenjiang city (defendant two).

Huang Ling raised several significant questions in the lawsuit: Was it necessary for his mother to have a cardiopulmonary transplant? Was tissue matching of the donor performed prior to the transplant? Were the two hospitals in question equipped to perform transplants? Had Liu Zhongmin performed transplant surgery before?

In his indictment, he questioned the validity of the diagnosis by Liu Zhongmin. If Ms. Chen really suffered from congenital heart disease, how could she have given birth to a healthy four-kilogram son? How could she have worked on a ship for several years? How could she have donated blood on a number of occasions? And how could she even have climbed up Badaling—the famous tourist site on the Great Wall in Beijing—without gasping for air?

The indictment further stated that during the time Chen was hospitalized in Shanghai East Hospital, occasionally, she was allowed to go home, and she was able to climb to the 6th floor of their building without stopping. Would this be possible for a patient in the latter stages of congenital heart disease?

Also, in March 2003, Liu claimed that Ms. Chen would not live more than three months if the transplants were not performed, but the operation didn't occur until September 2003. How could she have lived for six months without the transplants?

Huang requested the court to perform a judicial evaluation into Liu's diagnosis and the decision to perform the heart and lung transplants. The two hospitals argued strongly against an evaluation claiming that it was "Beyond the Statute of Limitations."

Huang also requested that the hospital provide the donor tissue typing results, but the hospital refused to comply. Huang believes the hospital commenced the surgery before a proper match was found. He also lodged a criminal lawsuit against the two hospitals concurrent with the civil lawsuit of Medical Malpractice.

According to investigations, the Shanghai East Hospital is rated as an A2 comprehensive hospital by the Ministry of Public Health, which means it is not qualified to perform organ transplants.

Huang said that after the first court hearing, the Shanghai East Hospital was prepared to settle the case out of court by paying 80,000 Yuan (about $10,000 USD). Huang rejected the offer because he wanted the truth to be found and to stop the hospitals from harming other patients.

On February 24, 2006, the court made a preliminary decision, which Huang's attorney found to be too vague. The verdict was that Huang had won the case, yet his litigation request was denied as the defendants were only held responsible for failing to produce evidence. The case is still under consideration.


Academic Scams
In August 2003, Shanghai media reported that Shanghai East Hospital had successfully conducted its first joint heart and lung transplant surgery on July 24, 2003. The reports stated that, a 33 year-old female patient named Xu from Zhenjiang City, Jiangsu province, suffered congenital heart disease since childhood. Seven years ago, she started to have difficulty breathing and lost the ability to do work. Lately, she was unable to lie flat, her whole body had become edematous, and her lips had turned dark purple. But Professor Liu Zhongmin saved her life by performing the joint heart and lung transplant surgery.

Later, Professor Liu and four others published an article entitled "Heart-lung homoplastic transplantation: a report of one case " in the Chinese Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in the April 2004, Volume 20, Second Issue, pages 87 and 88.

At the same time, a major media outlet in Jiangsu Province similarly reported, "on July 24, 2003, Chen Suocheng, Director of Thoracic Surgery at the First People's Hospital of Zhenjiang City in Jiangsu Province, performed a successful joint heart and lung transplant operation." The description of the female patient's ailments was basically the same as the case reported by the Shanghai media.

Later, Chen and nine others jointly published an article entitled "Procedure for and the perioperative management of a combined heart-lung transplant transplant" in the March 10, 2004 Jiangsu Medical Journal Volume 30, third issue.

Is it possible for both Shanghai East Hospital and First People's Hospital to conduct joint heart and lung surgeries on the same day and reach a medical summit?

According to investigations, there is no record of a heart-and-lung transplant on July 24, 2003 in Shanghai East Hospital. In fact, the doctor who actually performed the heart-and-lung transplant surgery in the First People's Hospital of Zhenjiang City, Jiangsu Province was Weng Yuguo, a Chinese surgeon from the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, German Heart Institute in Berlin. Cheng Suocheng was the assistant and Liu Zhongming was an observer during that surgery. The female patient's name was Xu Shangming.

After the surgery, in 2005, Liu Zhongmin had also gone to the First People's Hospital of Zhenjiang City to "rent" patient Xu for 24 hours at a cost of 20,000 Yuan (approximately US$ 2415). Liu invited the Xu family to Shanghai East Hospital. Liu used the money from the hospital funds to hire media to report on the patient's rebirth.

The media reported that the Xu family happily took the subway to the hospital to celebrate Xu's "second birthday" with her doctor Liu Zhongmin. They also ate birthday cake together. This propaganda and TV news coverage convinced other patients to believe that Liu Zhongmin performed the joint heart-and-lung transplant. Chen Fengying was only one of the many people duped by this scam.

Although Liu Zhongmin had not performed the surgery, he was awarded "the third prize for clinical medical achievement in Shanghai," "a physician with great achievement in science and technology in Pudong New Zone, Shanghai," "one of the top ten doctors in Shanghai City," and so on. He was also honored as "an expert given a special subsidy from the State Council." Chen Suocheng in Zhenjiang also won such honors as the "second prize of Zhenjiang City's 2004 Advance in Science and Technology" after publishing the fictitious article in the Jiangsu Medical Journal.


The Miserable Life of the "Living Advertisement"
Southern Metropolitan News also reported that Xu Shangming, the female patient who received the heart-and-lung transplant performed by the German doctor, was also called Xu Xiaoping, Xu Ping, or Ms. Wang by Liu Zhongmin and Chen Suocheng to mislead the public.

Xu Shangming is a rural woman from Huaian, Jiangsu Province. She moved to Zhenjiang city to work at the age of 33. She has 3 children. If she really had a congenital heart disease, how could she give birth to 3 healthy children? Although her height is only about 150 cm, she is very healthy. When she lived in Zhenjiang city, she had two demanding jobs: in the morning she got up very early to prepare and sell breakfasts, and during the day she transported over 200 kilograms of pork on her bicycle to sell at the market.

The only reason she went to the First People's Hospital in Zhenjiang city was for treatment of diarrhea and had a fever. She was wrongly diagnosed with cardiopulmonary disease and was hospitalized. She was then offered the heart-and-lung transplant surgery for free.

After the surgery, Xu Shangming became very weak and was unable to work. The hospital used her as a billboard to entice other victims. She appeared in the media or persuaded people to accept the surgery; and each time she was paid several thousand yuan by a hospital. It was her testimonial that made Chen Fengying agree to accept the free heart-and-lung transplant.

At present, because Xu Shangming is very weak from the surgery and for various other reasons as well as lack of finances is unable to sue the two academic swindlers in court. But she is actively looking for legal help and public support.


Invisible Victims
Besides Ms. Chen's death due to the botched surgery, the source of the donor organs is unknown. Why do the hospitals refuse to release the tissue typing results?

In early July, two Canadians, former Minister of Parliament David Kilgour and international human rights lawyer David Matas released a report on their investigation into organ harvesting in China. The report found over 40,000 transplanted organs were likely from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners.

Not long ago, BBC's report "Organ Sales 'Thriving' in China" confirmed that organ harvesting from executed prisoners is still occurring despite the law banning such activities that came into effect in China on July 1, 2006. The tragedies of what happened to Chen and Xu are now revealed, but there could be many more victims.


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