First Cut Is the Deepest: Organ Harvesting in Xinjiang

The News Lens
Date: 2017/11/06
By: Jules Quartly

Surgeon Enver Bughda, a native of northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region,

Enver Tohti Bughda (center) recounts his story alongside veteran democracy campaigner and rights activist Linda Arrigo (right).

helped harvest organs in 1990s China. Even if he hasn’t moved on, China has, and now claims to operate a purely voluntary donation program.

Enver Tohti Bughda saw the man’s still-beating heart as he surgically removed the kidneys and liver for an organ transplant. He’s now paying the price, cut off from his family and banished from his home country, fated to recount the story for the rest of his life and atone for his actions.

We meet at a small restaurant in Taipei’s Neihu district, where the food is good and the conversation lively. A small group of activists and poets have gathered to hear the former surgeon tell his gruesome tale, discuss the effects of nuclear radiation on the population of Xinjiang, and the gigantism of mutated rats. It’s not easy listening.

As the 54-year-old speaks he strokes his shaven head, eyes darting around the room and expressive eyebrows arching when he makes a point. Born in Hami, northwestern China’s restive Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, Bughda is Uyghur, a Turkic ethnic group.