Alarming Number of Children, Teens Disappearing in China

Almost two months ago, 15-year-old Hu Xinyu vanished from his boarding school in eastern China’s Jiangxi Province as he walked from his dorm to an evening study session. He may have disappeared as he crossed a short stretch of campus that was not covered by security cameras. However, school security camera footage for the evening has mysteriously gone missing.The Oct. 14 case riveted the nation as police combed the school for clues, draining its lake and septic tank. Hu was just the latest in a growing list of youngsters who have disappeared in recent months. Worried parents fear that their children have fallen victim to forced organ harvesting, as China’s organ transplant business thrives on a scale not seen in the rest of the world. Rumors Swirl Rumors abound regarding Hu’s disappearance. Reportedly, the 15-year-old had a physical shortly before his disappearance. One report claims that he had a rare blood type, matching that of someone who needed an organ transplant. According to another report, a relative found a note in Hu’s belongings indicating suicidal feelings—yet the note was not in the teen’s handwriting, indicating it may have been forged. Chinese media said that six vehicles drove out of the school that night. Further, although Hu went missing before 6 p.m., his parents weren’t notified of his disappearance until 11:40 that night. What is strange is that in a country with the most advanced video surveillance system in the world, a student was able to disappear without a trace. The last security footage available shows Hu walking down a hallway at around 5:50 p.m. Other security camera footage for the evening is mysteriously missing. In addition, to reach the classroom building, the boy had to cross a distance of about 100 meters (300 feet) that was not covered by cameras. A Growing List of Cases These are not isolated cases. On Nov. 19, Chinese independent journalist Zhang Zhou posted on Weibo a partial list of youngsters who have gone missing since July. Zhang recorded a total of 21 disappearances between July 15 and Nov. 11. The missing youngsters ranged from eight to 17 and included 12 girls and 9 boys, from 12 provinces. Eleven of the disappearances took place in the first two weeks of November alone. Zhang’s post has since been deleted. Another recent disappearance is that of Liu Aocheng, a 14-year-old boy from Wuhan, who disappeared on the evening of Nov. 12 as he took out the garbage. Reportedly, on Nov. 21, police found the boy’s body in the river but would not let the parents see the body. It was rumored online that the body was missing organs. “Missing children playing cards” are displayed by Shen Hao, founder of the missing person wetsite XRQS.com, in Beijing, China, on March 31, 2007. (China Photos/Getty Images) Pediatric Organ Transplants Surge Chinese parents whose children have disappeared fear the worst: that their loved ones have become a source of organs for China’s booming organ transplant market. Over the last quarter century, China has become a global center for organ transplantation and ranks first in Asia in the number of organ transplants. According to data cited in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2021, there were 19,454 organ transplants in China in 2019 (pdf). The transplants benefit wealthy Chinese, as well as foreigners who have made the country a destination for transplant tourism. Moreover, in recent years, pediatric organ transplants in China have surged. Triple Pediatric Heart Transplant: World First On Nov. 7, a Chinese hospital announced that it had performed three pediatric heart transplants in one day. “First in the world,” boasted Wuhan Union Hospital, which conducted the operations. According to a report from Chinese online media Healthcare, a medical team led by cardiovascular surgeons Dong Nianguo and Xia Jiahong successfully implanted hearts in three children, aged 3 years, 11 years, and 12 years, respectively. The donor hearts came from Beijing, Guangzhou, and Nanning. According to the report, the hospital received word on Nov. 6 that three suitable hearts had become available. The hospital sent three “heart protection teams,” to retrieve the donated organs for the transplants, which were performed over a seven-hour period on Nov. 7. The report does not detail how the hearts were obtained or how donors were matched to recipients. It may be assumed that the three donor children died at approximately the same time, based on the short window of time that a donor heart can survive outside the body. Advances in Kidney Transplantation Children’s Hospital of Chongqing Medical University is another example of China’s prowess in the transplant field. According to Chinese internet news source Sohu.com, the hospital recently announced that it has been approved as a children’s kidney transplant center. The hospital boasts the largest kidney transplant ward in a pediatric facility in China, with the capacity to conduct

Alarming Number of Children, Teens Disappearing in China

Almost two months ago, 15-year-old Hu Xinyu vanished from his boarding school in eastern China’s Jiangxi Province as he walked from his dorm to an evening study session. He may have disappeared as he crossed a short stretch of campus that was not covered by security cameras. However, school security camera footage for the evening has mysteriously gone missing.

The Oct. 14 case riveted the nation as police combed the school for clues, draining its lake and septic tank.

Hu was just the latest in a growing list of youngsters who have disappeared in recent months. Worried parents fear that their children have fallen victim to forced organ harvesting, as China’s organ transplant business thrives on a scale not seen in the rest of the world.

Rumors Swirl

Rumors abound regarding Hu’s disappearance. Reportedly, the 15-year-old had a physical shortly before his disappearance. One report claims that he had a rare blood type, matching that of someone who needed an organ transplant.

According to another report, a relative found a note in Hu’s belongings indicating suicidal feelings—yet the note was not in the teen’s handwriting, indicating it may have been forged.

Chinese media said that six vehicles drove out of the school that night.

Further, although Hu went missing before 6 p.m., his parents weren’t notified of his disappearance until 11:40 that night.

What is strange is that in a country with the most advanced video surveillance system in the world, a student was able to disappear without a trace.

The last security footage available shows Hu walking down a hallway at around 5:50 p.m. Other security camera footage for the evening is mysteriously missing. In addition, to reach the classroom building, the boy had to cross a distance of about 100 meters (300 feet) that was not covered by cameras.

A Growing List of Cases

These are not isolated cases. On Nov. 19, Chinese independent journalist Zhang Zhou posted on Weibo a partial list of youngsters who have gone missing since July.

Zhang recorded a total of 21 disappearances between July 15 and Nov. 11. The missing youngsters ranged from eight to 17 and included 12 girls and 9 boys, from 12 provinces. Eleven of the disappearances took place in the first two weeks of November alone.

Zhang’s post has since been deleted.

Another recent disappearance is that of Liu Aocheng, a 14-year-old boy from Wuhan, who disappeared on the evening of Nov. 12 as he took out the garbage.

Reportedly, on Nov. 21, police found the boy’s body in the river but would not let the parents see the body. It was rumored online that the body was missing organs.

The
“Missing children playing cards” are displayed by Shen Hao, founder of the missing person wetsite XRQS.com, in Beijing, China, on March 31, 2007. (China Photos/Getty Images)

Pediatric Organ Transplants Surge

Chinese parents whose children have disappeared fear the worst: that their loved ones have become a source of organs for China’s booming organ transplant market.

Over the last quarter century, China has become a global center for organ transplantation and ranks first in Asia in the number of organ transplants. According to data cited in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2021, there were 19,454 organ transplants in China in 2019 (pdf).

The transplants benefit wealthy Chinese, as well as foreigners who have made the country a destination for transplant tourism.

Moreover, in recent years, pediatric organ transplants in China have surged.

Triple Pediatric Heart Transplant: World First

On Nov. 7, a Chinese hospital announced that it had performed three pediatric heart transplants in one day. “First in the world,” boasted Wuhan Union Hospital, which conducted the operations.

According to a report from Chinese online media Healthcare, a medical team led by cardiovascular surgeons Dong Nianguo and Xia Jiahong successfully implanted hearts in three children, aged 3 years, 11 years, and 12 years, respectively. The donor hearts came from Beijing, Guangzhou, and Nanning.

According to the report, the hospital received word on Nov. 6 that three suitable hearts had become available. The hospital sent three “heart protection teams,” to retrieve the donated organs for the transplants, which were performed over a seven-hour period on Nov. 7.

The report does not detail how the hearts were obtained or how donors were matched to recipients. It may be assumed that the three donor children died at approximately the same time, based on the short window of time that a donor heart can survive outside the body.

Advances in Kidney Transplantation

Children’s Hospital of Chongqing Medical University is another example of China’s prowess in the transplant field.

According to Chinese internet news source Sohu.com, the hospital recently announced that it has been approved as a children’s kidney transplant center. The hospital boasts the largest kidney transplant ward in a pediatric facility in China, with the capacity to conduct six kidney transplants at once.

This October, the hospital conducted its first kidney transplantation on three children with chronic nephritis. The Chinese report also said nothing of the organ source.

Express lane at Xinjiang airport for transport of human organs
A sign at Kashgar Airport, reading “Special Passengers, Human Organ Exportation Lane,” in Xinjiang, in China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region. The photo is courtesy of Enver Tohti, who was forced to harvest organs in China; the former surgeon now speaks out about the evils of China’s transplant trade. The sign is a testament to the volume of organ transplants happening in China. (courtesy of Enver Tohti)

The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University is also acclaimed for its work in the kidney transplant field. The number of surgeries performed at the hospital has ranked first in China for many years in a row; in 2021 alone, there were 109 pediatric kidney transplants recorded, the hospital reported.

Liver Transplant Advances

In addition to heart and kidney transplants, pediatric liver transplants in China have developed at an astonishing rate.

Renji Hospital (Renji), affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, performed its 3,000th living donor pediatric liver transplant on Oct. 22.

To put this in perspective, world-ranked UCLA Health in Los Angeles has performed more than 900 pediatric liver transplants.

Renji took 11 years—from Oct. 2006 to Aug. 2017—to accomplish its first 1,000 transplants. From Aug. 2017 to Oct. 2019—2 years and 2 months—the hospital finished its second 1,000 cases, averaging 1.24 operations per day.

Price-Tagged Organs

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) promotes organ transplantation on various fronts.

In July 2021, the Chinese regime published guidelines for fees incurred during the procurement of organs. The standardized fees cover transplant costs ranging from donor-related expenses to acquisition, preservation, distribution, inspection, transportation, and information system costs.

The move drew criticism, according to a report by Radio Free Asia, with commentators accusing the Chinese regime of encouraging killing for organs and the trafficking of children and vulnerable groups.

Following the national guideline, some local authorities then issued their own standards. In late 2021, Henan Province made headlines for publishing a list of its “organ fee standards,” setting the price of 14 organs and parts, with the adult liver priced the highest at 260,000 yuan (about $36,400), while a child’s liver was priced at 100,000 yuan (about $14,000).

Epoch Times Photo
Some of the more than 700 transplant hospitals across China. The image in the center shows doctors carrying organs for transplant at a hospital in Henan Province on Aug. 16, 2012. (The Epoch Times)

Research Draws Scrutiny

China’s organ transplant industry has drawn attention for years, over concerns that prisoners and members of persecuted groups are used as living organ banks. Those concerns have come from human rights advocates as well as members of the academic community.

Under scrutiny, in January 2015 the Chinese regime banned the practice of extracting organs from prisoners and set up a voluntary donation system.

However, doubts persisted. In Feb. 2017, Mario Mondelli, editor-in-chief of the journal Liver International, retracted a Chinese paper on liver transplantation. The paper analyzed 563 consecutive liver transplantations performed by Shusen Zheng and Sheng Yan, of the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

The authors failed to disclose the origin of the organs, according to Mondelli. They “will face a ‘life-long embargo’ from submitting their work to Liver International,” reported Science magazine.

Living Organ ‘Donor’ Banks

In 2014, the U.S.-based World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) published an analysis of medical research papers in China. The analysis studied over 300 medical research papers from more than 200 hospitals in 31 provinces and municipalities in China.

WOIPFG analyzed data including “donor” sex, age, health condition and cause of death, the procedure used for organ removal, data on warm and cold ischemia times, and timing of organ transplants.

The organization concluded that China was utilizing large organ “donor” banks, consisting of living persons.

Further, its report indicated that China’s “thriving” transplantation industry was built primarily upon the persecution of Falun Gong.

The spiritual group, using meditative practices based on Buddhist traditions, has been systematically persecuted by the CCP since 1999. There is extensive evidence that the regime has targeted Falun Gong adherents for their organs.

From 2000 to 2008, in particular, huge numbers of Falun Gong adherents were detained and “killed on demand for their organs,” the WOIPFG study reported.

China Tribunal: Falun Gong a Primary Target

The China Tribunal, an independent panel set up to examine the issue, said in a 2020 judgment that it had clear evidence of forced organ harvesting over at least 20 years, with Falun Gong being a primary target, as well as Muslim Uyghurs.

The Tribunal’s judgment concluded that “forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale” and that “Falun Gong practitioners have been one—and probably the main—source of organ supply.

The report added that “concerted persecution and medical testing” of the Uyghur minority is also a concern and “evidence of forced organ harvesting of this group may emerge in due course.”

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the persecution of the spiritual discipline in China, in New York’s Chinatown on July 10, 2022. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Profit-Driven Organ Harvest

In an interview with NTD TV on Nov. 25, China affairs commentator Heng He explained that China’s organ transplant business is not a private venture: it is made possible by the CCP’s political and legal system. The accomplishments of the Chinese medical field in the field of organ transplantation are made possible by the backing of China’s state apparatus, Heng said.

The profit-driven demand for organs has widened the pool of those threatened by China’s transplant industry, Heng said. It now includes not only persecuted Falun Gong adherents but many other vulnerable groups as well, including children and teens.

Heng offered an explanation for China’s increasing number of unresolved missing child cases.

The police will try very hard not to solve the case, he said, “Because once the case is solved, [a police officer] can’t explain to his superior.” In other words, solving the case will expose a huge chain of interest behind the crime, including corrupt officials. Cracking any one case will reveal a huge syndicate of criminals.

Yi Fan, Zhang Zhongyuan, Xia Song, and Luo Ya contributed to this report.


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Mary Hong has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2020. She has reported on Chinese human rights issues and politics.