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Interview with Ex-Wife of a Chinese Surgeon Who Removed Corneas of Falun Gong Practitioners

David Kilgour met with the witness who was one of the first to reveal China’s organ harvesting practices involving Falun Gong.

Appendix 13 of the Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China

On May 20, 2006, Mr. David Kilgour conducted an interview in the United States with the ex-wife of a Chinese surgeon who removed corneas of Falun Gong prisoners. The following transcript was abridged and edited to protect those who would otherwise be in danger due to publication of this interview.

W – Ex-wife of a Chinese surgeon who removed corneas of Falun Gong practitioners.

A – Another person who was also present at the interview and raised two questions.

Kilgour: … The closest person who saw this happen is "W." … In 2001, when did the procurement of food supplies for [Sujiatun Hospital] go up?

W: About July, in the summer.

Kilgour: July 2001. You were in the accounting department?

W: Statistics and Logistics Department.

Kilgour: Statistics and Logistics Department. What happened? The procurement of food went up first and then the surgical equipment?

W: In July 2001, there were many people working in the Statistics and Logistics Department. Some of them from procurement brought the receipts to me for signature after they made the purchase. On the receipts I noted sharp increases in the food supplies. Also, the people in charge of the logistics were delivering meals to the facilities where Falun Gong practitioners were detained. Other medical staff came to our department to report the purchase of the medical equipment. From the receipts, the medical equipment supplies also sharply increased.

Kilgour: By the way, the facilities to detain Falun Gong practitioners, was it the underground facilities?

W: In the backyard of the hospital, there were some one-story houses typically built for construction workers. After several months, the consumption of food and other supplies gradually decreased. At that time people guessed that maybe the detainees were sent to an underground facility.

Kilgour: When did the supply decrease? September? October?{mospagebreak}

W: After about 4 or 5 months.

Kilgour: End of 2001?

W: Yes.

Kilgour: How much of an increase did you estimate was from the food [receipts you saw]? How many people you estimated were there?

W: The person in charge of getting the food and in charge of sending food to Falun Gong practitioners detained told me that there were about 5,000 to 6,000 practitioners. At the time, a lot of public security bureaus and hospitals in many areas were detaining many Falun Gong practitioners. A lot of people working at the hospital, including me, were not Falun Gong practitioners. So we didn’t pay attention. If it were not for what happened in 2003, when I found my ex-husband was directly involved in it, I probably wouldn’t be interested in this at all. A lot of the staffers working in our department are family members of the officials in the government healthcare system. For some matters, we knew it in our hearts but none of us would discuss these things.

Kilgour: When they decreased the procurement, where did you think the practitioners went?

W: We thought they were released.

Kilgour: At the end of 2001, you thought they were released?

W: Yes.

Kilgour: All 5,000 had been released?

W: No, there were still Falun Gong practitioners detained in the hospital, but the number was gradually decreasing. Later, in 2003, I learned that Falun Gong practitioners had been transferred to the underground complex and other hospitals, because our hospital couldn’t hold so many people.

Kilgour: They left the houses or cabins in the backyard to go to underground?

W: Yes, I later got to know this in 2002.{mospagebreak}

Kilgour: Did you say that you were not the person to send food to them when practitioners were detained in the houses or cabins in the backyard?

W: No, I was not.

Kilgour: Did you know who supplied their meals after they left your jurisdiction?

W: I didn’t know.

Kilgour: I heard a lot of these people were killed for their organs. 2001 and 2002. Was it the correct understanding?

W: During the years of 2001-2002, I didn’t know anything about organ harvesting. I only knew the detention of these people.

Kilgour: So you didn’t discover this until you husband told you in 2003.

W: Right.

Kilgour: Did he tell you that in 2001-2002 he had already started doing these operations?

W: Yes, he started in 2002.

Kilgour: Your former husband began in 2002?

W: Yes.

Kilgour: Did you roughly know if there were [organ removal] operations since 2001?

W: The operations started in 2001. Some were done in our hospital, and some were done at other hospitals in the region. I found out in 2003.

At the beginning he also did the operations, but he did not know they were Falun Gong practitioners. He was a neurosurgeon. He removed corneas. Starting from 2002 he got to know those he operated on were Falun Gong practitioners. Because our hospital was not an organ transplant hospital-it was only in charge of removal-how these organs were transplanted, he didn’t know.{mospagebreak}

Kilgour: Your ex-husband started to take organs from Falun Gong practitioners starting from when?

W: At the end of 2001, he started to operate, but he didn’t know these live bodies were Falun Gong practitioners. He got to know that in 2002.

Kilgour: What kind of organs did he take out?

W: Corneas.

Kilgour: Just corneas?

W: Yes.

Kilgour: Were these people alive or dead?

W: Usually these Falun Gong practitioners were injected with a shot to cause heart failure. During the process these people would be pushed into operation rooms to have their organs removed. On the surface the heart stopped beating, but the brain was still functioning, because of that shot.

Kilgour: What was the injection called?

W: I don’t know the name of it but it caused heart failure. I was not a nurse or a doctor. I don’t know the names of the injections.

Kilgour: Causing heart failure, most, or all, or some cases?

W: For most people.

Kilgour: So he would take corneas of these people, then what happened to these people?

W: These people were pushed to other operation rooms for removals of heart, liver, kidneys, etc. During one operation when he collaborated with other doctors, he learned they were Falun Gong practitioners, that their organs were removed while alive, and that it was not just cornea removal-they were removing many organs.

Kilgour: They did it in different rooms, didn’t they?{mospagebreak}

W: In the later period of time, when these doctors cooperated together, they started doing the operations together. At the beginning, fearing information could leak out, different organs were removed by different doctors in different rooms. Later on, when they got money, they were no longer afraid anymore. They started to remove the organs together.

For other practitioners who were operated on in other hospitals, my ex-husband didn’t know what happened to them afterward. For the practitioners in our hospital, after their kidneys, liver, etc., and skin were removed, there were only bones and flesh, etc., left. The bodies were thrown into the boiler room at the hospital.

In the beginning, I did not fully believe this had happened. For some doctors who had operation accidents, they may form some illusions. So I checked with other doctors and other officials from the government healthcare system.

Kilgour: In 2003 or 2002?

W: 2003.

Kilgour: Your husband only did corneas?

W: Yes.

Kilgour: How many cornea operations did your ex-husband perform?

W: He said about 2,000.

Kilgour: Corneas of 2,000 people, or 2,000 corneas?

W: Corneas of around 2,000 people.

Kilgour: This is from 2001 to 2003?

W: From the end of 2001 to October 2003.

Kilgour: That was when he left?

W: It was the time that I got to know this and he stopped doing it.{mospagebreak}

Kilgour: Where did these corneas go?

W: They were usually collected by other hospitals. There was an existing system handling such business of the removal and sales of the organs to other hospitals or other areas.

Kilgour: Nearby or far away?

W: I don’t know.

Kilgour: All the hearts, livers, kidneys, and corneas go off to other hospitals?

W: Yes.

Kilgour: Did you know what prices they sold them for?

W: I don’t know at the time. However, in the year 2002, a neighbor had a liver transplant. It cost 200,000 yuan [US$25,000]. The hospital charged a little bit less for Chinese than foreigners.

Kilgour: Which year, 2001 or 2002?

W: 2002.

Kilgour: What was your husband told? How did they justify? These were perfectly healthy people…

W: In the beginning, he wasn’t told anything. He was asked to help out in other hospitals. However, every time when he did such a favor, or provided this kind of help, he got lots of money, and cash awards-several dozen times his normal salary.

Kilgour: What was the total amount of money he got out of the 2,000 cornea removals?

W: Hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.

Kilgour: Were they paid in U.S. dollars?

W: Paid in Chinese yuan. Equivalent to hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.{mospagebreak}

Kilgour: How many doctors were working on these organ removals in the hospital, and in which area? Are we talking about 100 doctors, or dozens, or 10?

W: I don’t know how many people were doing it specifically. But I know that about four or five doctors who were acquaintances of us at our hospital were doing it. And in other hospitals, doctors of general practice were also doing this.

Kilgour: Are there any records in the statistics department regarding how many people were operated upon?

W: There was no proper procedure or paperwork for this kind of operation. So there was no way to count the number of operations in the normal way.

Kilgour: After practitioners transferred underground at the end of 2001, did you know where their food supplies were from?

W: Food still came from our department; just the amount gradually decreased.

At the end of 2001 we thought they were released. In 2003, I learned that they were not released but were transferred underground or to other hospitals.

Kilgour: Was the underground facility run by the military army or by the hospital? You said food was still from the hospital.

W: We weren’t responsible for the procurement of the food for the people detained and kept underground. That is why there was so much difference in the procurement of food when people were transferred to the underground complex. But the food of some of the detainees was provided by the hospital, and for others it was not. The decrease in food was not proportional to the decrease in the number of detainees.

Kilgour: What did your husband tell you about the underground facility? 5,000 people killed, or more than 5,000?

W: He didn’t know how many people were detained underground. He only heard from some others that people were detained underground. If three operations were done every day, after several years of operation, for the 5,000-6,000 people, not many people would be left. This whole scheme and the trading of organs were organized by the government healthcare system. The doctors’ responsibility was simply to do what they were told to do.{mospagebreak}

Kilgour: He didn’t go down to the underground facility himself?

W: He didn’t.

Kilgour: Rudimentary operation in the underground facility?

W: He had never been there.

Kilgour: All of those people, were they dead when they were operated on? Or their hearts stopped? Did he know that they were killed afterwards? They weren’t yet dead.

W: At the beginning, he didn’t know these were Falun Gong practitioners. As time went by, he knew they were Falun Gong practitioners. When they did more of these removals of organs and became bold, these doctors started to do the removals together; this doctor extracted the cornea, another doctor removed the kidney, the third doctor took out the liver. At that time, this patient, or this Falun Gong practitioner, he knew what was the next step to treat the body. (Translator added the translation of the two missed sentences: Yes, the heart stopped beating, but they were still living.) If the victim’s skin was not peeled off and only internal organs were removed, the openings of the bodies would be sealed and an agent would sign the paperwork. The bodies would be sent to the crematorium near the Sujiatun area.

Kilgour: Only if the skin was removed, they would be sent to the boiler room?

W: Yes.

Kilgour: Usually what was the "supposed" cause of death given?

W: Usually no specific reason when the bodies were sent to the crematorium. Usually the reasons were "The heart stopped beating," "heart failure." When these people were rounded up and detained, nobody knew their names or where they were from. So when they were sent to the crematorium, nobody could claim their bodies.

Kilgour: Who administered the drug to cause the heart to stop beating?

W: Nurse.

Kilgour: Nurse working for the hospital? {mospagebreak}

W: Nurses brought over by these doctors. Doctors, including my ex-husband, came to this hospital in 1999 or 2000. He brought his nurse over. When organ harvesting first started, nurses were assigned to the doctors. Wherever the doctors go, their nurses go with them as far as the organ removal operations were concerned. These nurses were not like personal secretaries.

In the year 2003, government health authorities sent many doctors involved in organ removal operations to an area sealed by the government because of SARS. These doctors believed they were sent there to let them live or die over there. I mean the government already wanted to put to death secretively the first group involved in organ removal. So they sent them to a SARS-affected area in Beijing.

From that point on my husband realized that there was danger in doing this and that at any time, he could be killed and done away with as an accomplice. Later, when he wanted to quit, someone did try to kill him.

Kilgour: In the hospital?

W: Outside the hospital.

Kilgour: Can you give us more details?

W: At the end of 2003, after I learned about the issue, he came back from Beijing. He could no longer live a normal life. After I knew about it, he listened to my advice and decided to quit doing it. He submitted his resignation letter. It was around the new year of 2004.

In February 2004, after his resignation was granted, the last month of working in the hospital, he was tying up loose ends at his work. During that time we received phone threats at home. Someone said to him, "You watch out for your life."

One day we got off work in the afternoon. There were two people walking toward us trying to assassinate him. If you were a woman, I would show you my scar, because I pushed him aside and took the stab. Men do not have very good sixth senses, so he kept walking. When I realized the two people were going to pull the knife to stab him, I pushed him aside and took the stab for him. Many people came over and I was sent to the hospital. These two men ran away.

Kilgour: Which side? (Location of the scar)

W: Right side.{mospagebreak}

Kilgour: Do you know who these two people were?

W: I didn’t know in the beginning. Later I knew.

Kilgour: Who were they?

W: I learned that they were thugs hired by the government health authorities.

Kilgour: How did you find that out about these two?

W: Because my family was part of the government healthcare system. My mother used to be a doctor.

After these things happened, our friends suggested we get a divorce so it would separate our children and me from my husband. After all, our children and I didn’t participate in any of these things. So we divorced at the end of 2003, very close to the new year of 2004.

Kilgour: How many did you think were still alive?

W: Initially I estimated there were about 2,000 people left at the time I left China in 2004. But I cannot give a figure anymore, because China is still arresting Falun Gong practitioners and there have been people coming in and going out. So I cannot give a figure now anymore.

Kilgour: How did you come to this number 2,000 in 2004?

W: According to how many my ex-husband did and how many other doctors did. And how many sent to other hospitals. Good doctors are well connected within the healthcare system. Many of them used to be classmates in medical schools. The number was estimated by the few doctors involved. When we were together in private, they discussed how many people in total. At that time, these doctors did not want to continue. They wanted to go to other countries or transfer to other fields. So the total number of deaths was calculated and derived by these doctors involved.

Kilgour: What is their estimate of how many people were killed?

W: They estimated 3,000-4,000 people.

Kilgour: This is the estimate by all of the doctors?{mospagebreak}

W: No. By three doctors we were familiar with.

Kilgour: Do you have anything else you want to say?

W: Chinese or non-Chinese, they think it is impossible Sujiatun detained so many Falun Gong practitioners. They focused on just this Sujiatun hospital. Because most people do not know there are underground facilities. I want to say, even if things were over for Sujiatun, in other hospitals this issue continues. Because I worked in Sujiatun, I know about Sujiatun. Other hospitals and detention centers¡­ inspecting and putting control on these facilities will help reduce the deaths.

For Chinese people, one person comes out, there are still family members in China. They still dare not come out to speak the truth. They are afraid it could put their family members in danger. It doesn’t mean that they don’t know about it.

A: Does your mother know about what you are doing?

W: Yes.

A: Does she still work in the government healthcare system?

W: No. She retired a long time ago. She is almost 70 years old.

Reprint with permission from