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From correspondents in Ottawa, China’s military is harvesting organs from unwilling live prison inmates, mostly Falungong practitioners, for transplants on a large scale – including to foreign recipients- according to a study.

The report’s authors – Canada’s former secretary of state for the Asia Pacific region David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas – implicated dozens of hospitals and jails throughout China in July, after a two-month investigation.

Chinese officials denied those allegations.

Mr Matas and Mr Kilgour’s second report, released 1Feb, includes interviews with organ recipients in 30 countries and Canadian hospital staff who cared for more than 100 patients who had undergone suspicious transplant surgeries in China.

“The involvement of the People’s Liberation Army in these transplants is widespread,” Mr Kilgour said at a press conference.

Like many civilian hospitals in rural China, military hospitals turned to selling organs to make up for government funding cuts in the 1980s, the report said.

But military personnel could operate with much more secrecy, it said.

“Recipients often tell us that even when they receive transplants at civilian hospitals, those conducting the operation are military personnel,” the report said.

Hospitals in Canada’s biggest cities – Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto – confirmed “a substantial number” of Canadians had travelled to China for dubious organ transplants, Mr. Kilgour said.

“We’re in the three digits, up over 100 (from Canada each year), and the trend is accelerating,” Mr Matas said.

To curb what they called a “disgusting form of evil”, the pair asked pharmaceutical firms to stop selling organ anti-rejection drugs to China.

They also asked countries to post travel advisories warning about China’s alleged organ harvest, asked states to cease offering follow-up care for patients who had dubious organ transplants in China and asked foreign doctors to cut ties with their Chinese counterparts suspected of such practices.

The authors said states should enact legislation to ban citizens from traveling to China for organ transplants from unwilling donors, although they admitted that such cases would be difficult to prosecute.

[1Feb07, Agence France-Presse,]