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WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Chinese burn doctor seeking asylum in the United States told Congress harrowing tales Wednesday of his work removing the skin of nearly 100 executed prisoners for transplant.
Wang Guoqi's account added weight to widespread reports of involuntary organ donations.
He said he routinely jumped into action immediately after prisoners were executed. First, he cut off the ropes that bound their hands. Then he removed their clothes before spending 10 minutes to 20 minutes on his real job _ carefully slicing off their skin.
In October 1995, however, there was an execution that ``has tortured my conscience to no end,'' Wang told the House International Relations Committee's human rights panel.
The prisoner in Hebei Province did not immediately die from the executioner's shot but was on the ground, convulsing, the 38-year-old doctor said.
Even after three other doctors ``extracted his kidneys quickly and precisely,'' Wang said, the prisoner was still breathing, his heart still beating. Wang and a fellow burn surgeon stayed to harvest the skin but ultimately fled, fearing that people outside the ambulance were the man's angry relatives, preparing to attack.
``It is with deep regret and remorse for my actions that I stand here today testifying against the practices of organ and tissue sales from death row prisoners,'' said Wang, who came to the United States in April with a tour group.
Such organ harvesting is motivated by money, said human rights activist Harry Wu, imprisoned by China for 19 years. Executions of prisoners whose organs are deemed good matches for rich foreign transplant recipients _ who pay more than $15,000 apiece _ are scheduled to ensure the recipients are on hand.
Under an unwritten policy, Wu said, top priority recipients are high-ranking government and military officials, followed by wealthy overseas Chinese and other foreigners, then members of the military and finally, common citizens.
``Congress cannot allow this horrific situation to go unchallenged,'' said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., head of the panel that held the hearing. She said she wants ``to ensure that the U.S. does not become an accomplice ... in promoting this deplorable practice.''
Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, the panel's top Democrat, wondered whether the allegations were true.
``Is it possible we're having a whole lot of discussion about something that's not even going on?'' she asked Michael Parmly of the State Department's human rights bureau.
Parmly said the evidence is ``overwhelming and growing'' and ``the sources who have reported this are credible and numerous.''
Dr. Thomas Diflo, director of kidney transplants at New York University Medical Center, said he got his first inkling of the situation three years ago when a patient who had been on their waiting list returned from a trip to China with a new kidney, saying vaguely it was from a distant cousin.
More recently, he has seen four or five more young Chinese-American patients in the same situation, some telling him their new organs came ``from an executed prisoner.''
Ros-Lehtinen has sponsored a bill to bar from the United States any physician from China who wants to come for training in organ or bodily tissue transplantation.
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