Human Harvest: China’s Illegal Organ Trade

Flying Cloud Productions Inc.

Like a mystery novel with a devastating denouement, Leon Lee’s documentary starts with numbers that don’t add up and divines an unthinkable explanation. China had no organ-donation system until 2010, yet it’s now the one place in the world where a person can get a heart and lung transplant in less than a week. People flock there by the thousands, checkbooks in hand, to get new kidneys, lungs and livers. China insists executed prisoners are the source, but David Matas, David Kilgour and other human rights activists tell Lee that the country would have to be executing more than 10 times the number it officially reports to generate such a huge supply of compatible organs. Lee found sources inside China who say that the answer is that the harvesting of organs is the execution and that the victims are mostly prisoners of conscience, practitioners of Falun Gong, a persecuted spiritual movement whose goals include better health. Lee bolsters his case not only with interviews with doctors and nurses who describe taking organs from prisoners still alive but with simple telephone inquiries to Chinese hospitals where arranging a transplant seems only slightly more complicated than ordering takeout. For its exposé of highly profitable, monstrous system of forced organ donation, Human Harvest: China’s Illegal Organ Trade receives a Peabody Award.


Director/Writer/Producer: Leon Lee. Executive Producer: Jason Loftus. Co-Producer: Chunyu Zhang. Featuring: David Matas and David Kilgour.