Ms. He Xiuling, a Falun Gong practitioner from Yantai City, was transferred from a detention centre to a hospital in March 2004 for meningitis. She was later taken to the morgue while still breathing and her lower back was bandaged. Her husband Xu Chengben suspected that his wife had her kidneys harvested while she was still alive. The police tried to pay him 100,000 yuan1 to keep him quiet, but he refused. When Mr. Xu published an article online two years later, questioning his wife's death and expressing his suspicion of his wife being a victim of organ harvesting, he was arrested the very next day. Other family members were then forced to agree to cremate Ms. He's body.
While Mr. Xu was held at a brainwashing centre and subjected to severe persecution, he lost a lot of weight within just a few months. He was emaciated and was often disoriented. When he passed away two years later, his skin had festered. His family suspects that he was given drugs in order to keep him quiet and from appealing his wife's wrongful death.
This article was compiled according to Mr. Xu's account of what happened.
Ms. He taken to Yuhuangding Hospital
Ms. He Xiuling, 52, had been to Beijing to appeal for justice for Falun Gong three times, and was detained and tortured many times. She and several other practitioners were arrested at the end of August 2003, because she made materials exposing the persecution of Falun Gong. She was tried six months later and was held at Yantai Nanjiao Detention Centre, where she was tortured by Liu Guoyao. Liu handcuffed her to the bed railings with her arms behind her back and forced her to stay in an awkward position for five days. She was also not allowed to use the toilet or sleep. According to another practitioner who was later released, Ms. He remained steadfast in her belief and was put in solitary confinement. She was transferred from the detention centre to Yuhuangding Hospital in March 2004 to receive medical treatment. The hospital authorities said the cause for the hospitalisation was meningitis.
Ms. He's husband, Mr. Xu Chengben received a phone call from Li Wenguang of the Zhifu District 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong) at around 5 p.m. on March 10th, 2004. Li first asked him whether or not Ms. He had any illnesses, to which he replied that she didn't. Li went on to say that Ms. He was sick and had been taken to Yuhuangding Hospital. Li also told Mr. Xu that he was allowed to visit her. Having inquired with the hospital staff many times, Mr. Xu finally found his wife at around 7 p.m. that night, on the sixth floor in Room 32 of the brain neurological section. There were two other patients in the room and they were both accompanied by their family members. Mr. Xu later found out that his wife was taken to the hospital on March 8th and was being monitored by two guards from the detention centre. The hospital had issued a critically ill diagnosis that stated that Ms. He had meningitis.
Mr. Xu was shocked when he saw his wife, and couldn't believe that it was really her. She couldn't move or talk, and her neck and hands were discoloured. She was also handcuffed to the railings of the bed, and there were many wounds and scars on her wrists. She was naked from the waist down, and it seemed that she was not receiving any medical attention.
When Mr. Xu asked his wife where it hurts, she put her hand over her chest. Mr. Xu then helped her to sit up. Her left eye was not able to open, and she sounded as though she was in a lot of pain. She also struggled to point to her lower back. Mr. Xu was in disbelief that his wife had meningitis. Ms. He also signalled that she was hungry and wanted to eat. After about five minutes, two guards, one male and one female, came in. Mr. Xu was not sure how long they had been gone, but they did not seem very concerned about Ms. He at all.
The guards claimed that Ms. He was not willing to take any medication or IV fluids. The male guard brought two pills and Mr. Xu helped his wife to take them. There was also a glass of cold and flu herbal tablets. Mr. Xu couldn't understand how effective the cold and flu herbal remedy could be for a meningitis patient. There were two bottles of IV fluids by the bed. The hospital staff took one and administrated it to Ms. He. The male guard said that they had tried to administrate IV fluids, but Ms. He took out the needles. Mr. Xu didn't believe that his wife was capable of pulling the needles out, and suspected that the guard did not try to give her any medication or injections.
When Mr. Xu requested to give his wife some food, one of the guards peeled an apple and gave him two slices. Then they said that they couldn't give her any more. Mr. Xu requested to give her a proper meal but was refused. The guards later said that the reason she wasn't wearing any trousers was because she wet them, and the medical staff had a catheter inserted into her to extract the fluid from her body. Yet Mr. Xu didn't see any catheters and later a doctor also confirmed that no catheter had been inserted.
Mr. Xu requested to stay and take care of his wife, but was refused after the male guard phoned director Zhang Futian of the Nanjiao Detention Centre. Mr. Xu asked, “I am family. Why can't I stay? Who set such a rule?” He was then forced out of the room. The entire visit only lasted for about 15 minutes.
When Mr. Xu later questioned Zhang Futian, why his wife was persecuted so brutally and ended up in the hospital, Zhang told him that its was a directive from the Public Security and Law section of the detention centre.
Ms. He was still alive when she was taken to the morgue
At around 7 a.m. the next day, Li Wenguang called Mr. Xu and told him to hurry over to the hospital. Mr. Xu grabbed some of his wife's clothes and rushed over there. He was told by Li that Ms. He had died as a result of her illness, and told him that he should ask the doctor for the cause of death. Li didn't allow him to see his wife's body or dress her, and told him to take the clothes he'd brought back home.
Mr. Xu and his relatives went to the hospital morgue at around 10 a.m. on March 11th, 2004. They saw that Ms. He was naked from waist down, her hands and feet were slightly warm, her left eye was sunken and dark purple in colour. Mr. Xu also noticed that his wife's lower back was bandaged. Ms. He's younger sister had not seen her for many years and cried out, “How did you get like this, sister? Open your eye and take a look at me. You haven't seen me for so many years!” As her sister was still speaking, tears came out of Ms. He's eyes, and they saw sweat on her face. They suddenly realized that she was not dead! Some of the relatives hurried upstairs to look for a doctor to help her.
After several attempts to get help, a male doctor and two female nurses came downstairs with a electrocardiogram (ECG). After about 15 centimetres of the ECG recording had been traced on the paper, the relatives saw that there were waves on the tracing, meaning that she still had a heartbeat. When Ms. He's younger sister shouted at the hospital staff, wanting to know why they had sent her sister to the morgue. The doctor quickly grabbed the ECG recording and tore it off. The relatives tried to stop him, but he quickly ran out of the room with the ECG recording in his hand.
The relatives were angry, yet helpless. They found that Ms. He still had a pulse and pleaded to an old man who worked at the morgue to come over and take a look. The old man put on a pair of white gloves, examined Ms. He, and confirmed that she still had a heartbeat. He was also very astonished and said, “I have never seen anything like this...”
The relatives went around the hospital asking for help, they were told that they needed to see Ms. He's doctor, Dr. Guo, but he had gone to Jinan for a business trip. They went to many different departments including the Red Cross, 110 Emergency Ambulance, and the Medical Malpractice Division asking for help, but nobody was willing to help them. That afternoon, they saw a car from the funeral parlour parked in front of the morgue and Ms. He's body was being carried out to the car. The relatives hurried over and stopped them. The funeral parlour staff said that they had received a phone call from the 610 Office telling them to hurry and collect the body for cremation. Ms. He's relatives managed to stop them from taking her and took her back into the hospital.
Authorities try to silence Mr. Xu
When Mr. Xu and his relatives returned to the hospital the next day, they were not allowed to see Ms. He's body. But they were allowed to see her body again on the third day. This time, Ms. He's heartbeat and pulse had stopped. Her hands and feet were ice cold and she was confirmed to be dead.
Mr. Xu and his relatives went to the hospital room where Ms. He had stayed in and wanted to ask the other patients there some questions. However, they found the room was empty and the other two patients were gone! When they asked the hospital authorities for Ms. He's medical records, they were not given the originals. It was clear that what they'd been been given had all been changed and photocopied. Much important information was missing. When the relatives went to the neurosurgery department, a doctor there said, “Don't even think about asking us to tell you anything...”
The hospital authorities' explanation for the bandage on Ms. He's lower back was that they had performed a spinal tap on her. Yet, the detention centre director Zhang Futian, who paid for her treatment, said that they did not perform a spinal tap. Also, there was no record in Ms. He's medical records of a spinal tap being performed. The relatives took the records and visited a few medical experts, and they all pointed out that a spinal tap was not necessary for treating meningitis. They were also positive that according to the records, it was not a spinal tap procedure. The experts pointed out that the medical records had been re-arranged and there was no record of an emergency rescue when Ms. He was near death. Mr. Xu was repeatedly refused by the hospital authorities when asking for Ms. He's original medical records, and later found that the records had been taken by the Shandong Provincial Procuratorate.
In order to prevent Ms. He's body from decomposing, Mr. Xu and Zhang Futian from the detention centre signed an agreement on March 13th, 2004 to freeze the body at the funeral parlour. The agreement states that the relatives can visit Ms. He's body anytime and the body cannot be cremated without the family's consent. However, the relatives were not allowed to visit.
Officials from the Yantai Public Security strongly urged Mr. Xu to have an autopsy performed on his wife's body. They then allowed Mr. Xu and his son to see Ms. He's body before the autopsy, but then they were quickly forced out of the room. The results of the autopsy were later read out to Mr. Xu. They clearly stated that the 610 Office and the detention centre were not held responsible for Ms. He's death. Mr. Xu was not given a copy of the autopsy examination results, and was quickly taken away after the report was read out. According to the report, many little red dots were found on Ms. He's intestines and there was a purplish substance inside her uterus. The report also stated that there were no external injuries found on Ms. He's body. But Mr. Xu clearly remembered seeing bandages on her lower back.
Mr. Xu appealed to various local government agencies and to the Supreme People's Procuratorate. He also published articles online requesting the United Nations to initiate an investigation into Ms. He's death. Officials from the Yantai Police Department 610 Office sent people to talk to Mr. Xu many times and attempted to pay him money so that he would stop appealing. One time they even asked his neighbour to talk to him and offered to pay him 100,000 yuan. They also said that if that's not enough they could give him more, as long as he stopped appealing. The neighbour refused to help them.
Officials from the Shandong Provincial Ministry of Public Security and Shandong Provincial Procuratorate went to Yantai on July 8th and performed another autopsy on Ms. He. Again, the medical examiner read the evaluation report only once and reiterated that the 610 Office and the detention centre were not held responsible for Ms. He's death. Mr. Xu was again refused when he asked for a copy of the autopsy report. Mr. Xu recalled that more than 10 people were present at the time. Officials from the Shandong Provincial Public Security, Yantai Public Security, Yantai Police Department, 610 Office, and Liu Guoyao, the guard from the detention centre who had tortured and interrogated Ms. He were all there. When he requested to take pictures of her body, everybody there opposed him and didn't allow him to do so.
Mr. Xu suspects that his wife had her organs harvested
Mr. Xu suspects that his wife was not taken to the hospital for meningitis, but was used as a live donor for organ harvesting. The bandages around her lower back could suggest that her kidneys had been removed, and according to an anomaly in her eyes, it's possible that her corneas were also harvested at the same time.
In the spring of 2006, the crime of harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners was exposed overseas, and Mr. Xu's suspicions about his wife's death grew more and more. On April 19th, he published an article online, strongly questioning his wife's death and urged international human rights organisation to come to Yantai and re-examine his wife's body in order to identify the true cause of her death. On April 20th, the day after his article was published, police arrested him and Ms. He's younger sister, who is also a Falun Gong practitioner.
Agents from the 610 Office went to Ms. He's only son, Mr. Xu Hui, and told him that if he signed an agreement to cremate his mother's body, they would release his father and give him 5,000 yuan. Under pressure from the authorities, Mr. Xu Hui signed the agreement to cremate his mother's body, and was later given 5,000 yuan by officials from the 610 Office.
Ms. He's body was cremated on June 20th. Many police went to the crematorium, and a few of them followed Ms. He's son and relatives closely. When the younger sister cried out for Ms. He, some officers quickly dragged her away.
Mr. Xu and Ms. He's sister were then put in a brainwashing centre that was set up by the 610 Office. There, they were surrounded by more than 20 people who attempted to force them to give up their belief in Falun Gong and subjected them to verbal and physical abuse. Mr. Xu was deprived of sleep and was not given any food or water for many days, yet he remained steadfast in his belief. Agents from the 610 Office then took him to the notorious Zhaoyuan Brainwashing Centre, where he was tortured and believed to have been injected with unknown drugs. He quickly lost a lot of weight, and when his relatives visited him after only a few months, he was a mere skeleton. He was often in a state of confusion and very disoriented. He not only gave up his faith, but also gave up investigating the cause of his wife's death.
Mr. Xu died suddenly at the beginning of 2008. On February 26th, he called his family in Dezhou and sounded just fine. Yet, the family was notified of his death the next day. When his relatives prepared his body for the funeral, they found that his skin had festered and his shirt stuck to his skin. The family requested that a forensic examination be done on his body. The result was that Mr. Xu died of poisoning. Even though the forensic examiner said it was carbon monoxide poisoning, there were many signs had led the family to suspect that Mr. Xu was poisoned with drugs and killed by the 610 Office officials in order to keep him silent.
International community investigating organ harvesting
It is said that transplant centre staff at Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital perform between 160 to 170 kidney transplant surgeries per year, and that their supply of kidneys was adequate and the donors were very healthy. They also stated that they had performed such transplants on non-Chinese who travelled to China for organ transplants. However, they avoided talking about the source of the donors.
Since March 2006, there have been many witnesses accusing the Chinese Communist Party of harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners and engaging in illegal organ transplants in order to make a lucrative profit. Authors of the book Bloody Harvest, David Matas and David Kilgour, have evidence to suggest that organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners is a long-term and widespread phenomenon in China. They also describe it as “an unprecedented evil in this world.”
Officials at Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital have been suspected of organ harvesting since June 2006, and according to the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG), Ms. He was only one of the victims of organs harvesting at Yuhuangding Hospital.
1. "Yuan" is the Chinese currency; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.
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