Case Overview: He Xiulin (贺秀玲) (suspected organ harvesting victim)

(Organized from He Xiulin’s husband’s submissions to[1] [2] [3] and his statement to lawyer Gao Zhisheng[4])

He Xiulin, a 52-year-old Falun Gong practitioner in Yantai, Shandong Province, was persecuted to the verge of death at Yantai Nanjiao Detention Center for refusing to give up her faith. She was taken to Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital on March 8, 2004.

On March 10, He’s husband Xu Chengben received a phone call from Li Wenguang, head of the Zhifu District 610 Office, who said He was ill and being treated at Yuhuangding Hospital and that Xu could go to visit her. After 7 p.m. that night, Xu found his wife in the neurology ward. He Xiulin was on the verge of death and could no longer talk. She was naked from the waist down, one of her hands was cuffed to the head of the bed, and her wrist showed layers of blood and scars. The hospital diagnosed her with Tuberculous Meningitis. He Xiulin was not observed being given any treatment or food, and she was guarded by a man and a woman.

At 7 a.m. on March 31, Li Wenguang from the local 610 Office notified Xu by phone that He Xiulin had died, but he did not allow her family to see or clothe her body. After strong demands by Xu and other family members, they were finally allowed to see her at the hospital mortuary at 11 a.m. At this point, He’s hands and feet were still warm, the area around her left eye was black and purple and visibly collapsed, and there was a bandage around her waist.

He’s younger sister wailed, “Sister, how did you end up like this? Open your eyes and look at me. You haven’t seen me in so many years!” While she was yelling, two trails of tears flowed from He’s eyes. The relatives then saw many beads of sweat appear on He’s face. Seeing that He was still alive, the relatives went upstairs to plead for doctors to resuscitate her. But the doctors were unusually cold and did not commence resuscitation. Other relatives in her village heard about the situation, rushed to the hospital, and loudly scolded the doctors before a male doctor and two female nurses brought the electrocardiograph downstairs. When the relatives saw spikes in the electrocardiogram output, He’s younger sister shouted, “Look, look, she still has a heartbeat, and you took her here!” The doctor was shocked and rushed forward to tear up the paper. The relatives stopped him and fought over the printout. The doctor snatched the paper and said, “The person died a long time ago. How can she be living?” before leaving the scene quickly.

When He’s relatives and friends felt her pulse, they called over a staff member of the mortuary. The elderly man put on a white glove and confirmed that she indeed had a pulse. Surprised, he said, “I’ve never seen something like this…” The relatives went all over the hospital for help, but no doctor was willing to resuscitate He. The hospital said He’s attending physician, surnamed Guo, was away on a business trip to Jinan. They also asked for help from the Red Cross, emergency services, and the medical incident department, to no avail.

That afternoon, He’s relatives saw a hearse parked in front of the mortuary and He Xiulin being loaded into the vehicle. Staff from the funeral home said the 610 Office had called to tell them to quickly take her for cremation. The relatives’ strong protests prevented the still-living He Xiulin from being taken away.

The next day, the relatives were not allowed to see He. They went to her patient room to ask for details from neighboring patients, only to find that all the other patients there had been relocated overnight. They requested He’s medical file from the hospital, but the one they received was not the original one; it had been modified and copied, and many critical portions were missing records. The hospital’s explanation for the bandage around He’s waist was that she had undergone a lumbar puncture, but this was denied by the detention center head who paid for the treatment, Zhang Futian. He’s medical file also did not have a record of a lumbar puncture or the results. When relatives inquired with the neurosurgery department, a doctor said, “Don’t you think you can get something out of our hospital…”

On the third day, March 13, when the relatives were allowed to see He again, she no longer had a heartbeat or pulse, and her extremities were cold. Because of the suspicious circumstances and to prevent the body from decomposing, Xu Chengben and Zhang Futian signed an agreement to move the body to the funeral home for cold preservation. The agreement also allowed family members to see the body at any time and stipulated that He could not be cremated without her family’s approval.

Under Xu’s strong demands, on March 17, Yantai judicial authorities performed an autopsy, but they did not provide Xu a written report. Rather, they only read the conclusion in a perfunctory manner and said that there were no external injuries. Xu did not understand why the bandage around He’s waist was needed if she had no external injuries. The relatives later took her medical file and inquired with several experts, all of whom said a lumbar puncture was not plausible. They also said the file had been reorganized and that it had no record of her critical condition and resuscitation process. Xu repeatedly sought the original file from the hospital but was denied. The Shandong Provincial Procuratorate later pulled the medical file.

Xu escalated the case from local authorities all the way to the Supreme Procuratorate. During this time, the Yantai police and 610 Office personnel sent multiple people to talk Xu out of escalating to higher authorities in exchange for money. They once tried to persuade his neighbor and offered a starting price of 100,000 yuan, but He’s family declined. On July 8, the Shandong Province Public Security Bureau and Shandong Province Procuratorate commenced a new autopsy. This time, the medical examiner read the report and concluded that the 610 Office and detention center bore no responsibility. Xu sought to obtain the report but was denied.

Two years later, in March 2006, the Chinese regime’s killing of Falun Gong practitioners for organs was exposed internationally. On April 19, Xu posted on an overseas website and invited international human rights organizations to go to Yantai and investigate the cause of her death. The next day, Xu and He’s sister were arrested. The 610 Office then threatened He Xiulin’s only child, Xu Hui, to sentence his father to prison. They offered to release his father and give him 50,000 yuan if Xu Hui agreed to have his mother cremated: “Do you want cremation [of your mother] or do you want your father?” Under pressure, Xu Hui signed his consent for the cremation of his mother’s body, and the 610 Office subsequently gave him 50,000 yuan.

He Xiulin’s body was cremated on June 20. Many police officers guarded the scene. When He’s younger sister cried out about the injustice, a few officers quickly dragged her away. Xu and He’s sister were then taken to a brainwashing center set up by the 610 Office. Xu was deprived of sleep, food, and water, but he did not give up his faith. A staff member said, “Xu hasn’t slept or eaten in five days, but he’s still strong like a bull. Even multiple people can’t hold him down.” The 610 Office later held Xu in Zhaoyuan Brainwashing Center, which was notorious for using torture and nerve-damaging drugs to force Falun Gong practitioners to renounce their faith.

When Xu’s relatives and friends saw him again months later, he looked like a skeleton. Xu was 1.78 meters (5 ft 10 inches) tall, and his weight had dropped from 85 kilograms (187 pounds) to around 53 kilograms (116 pounds). He was often disoriented and had given up both his faith and the case of his wife’s death.

Xu made a phone call from Dezhou to a relative on February 26, 2008, at which point his voice did not cause concern about his health. The next day, the relative received news of Xu’s death. When the relative was dressing Xu’s body, the relative found that Xu’s skin had rotted and stuck to his shirt. The relative called in a medical examiner, who concluded that Xu had died of poisoning.

[1]    Wife suspected being a victim of organ harvesting, Husband killed to conceal the truth.  September 30, 2012

妻子疑被活摘器官 丈夫遭封口夺命. 明慧网.


[2]    Updated information of Ms. He Xiuling’s Death. June 24,2004. By Ms. He’s husband, Xu Chengben

烟台大法弟子贺秀玲被迫害致死的更多消息. 文/贺秀玲的丈夫:徐承本. 明慧网2004年6月14日

English Version Available:


[3]    Ms. He Xiuling Tortured to Death; Yantai City Police Attempt to Cover Up the Truth with Bribery. September 18, 2004.

贺秀玲被迫害致死 烟台恶警企图用钱掩盖罪责。 【明慧网2004年8月20日】


[4]     Gao Zhisheng’s First Open Letter to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
Asia News. February 20, 2006.

维权律师高智晟致函胡锦涛主席、温家宝总理的第一封公开信. Asia News. 02/20/2006