I concluded my Mannkal internship this week by attending the international students for liberty conference in Washington D.C. I was excited about this conference for many reasons, firstly because it had an amazing line up of speakers, and secondly to catch up the other Mannkal Scholars who joined me there!
I think the speaker who struck a chord with me the most was a last minute addition to the line up, Miss World Canada, Anastasia Lin. Anastasia decided to use her position as Miss World Canada, as platform to bring attention to humanitarian issues she was passionate about.
As she was born and spent her first years in China, many of these issues originate from there. I think the most memorable issue she discussed was organ harvesting in China compared to the rest of the world. Anastasia said to get a liver transplant in the United States, the usual wait time is just under one year, and as soon as the recipient hears the news, they have the race to the hospital to ensure the organ is still viable.
In China, the wait time for the same procedure is approximately fifteen days, and the organ recipient is able to elect whether to have the surgery in the morning or the afternoon. This vast difference poses the question, where are the organs coming from? According to Anastasia the official explanation for this surplus of organs is death penalty offenders and organ donors.
However in China, for religious reasons, very few people elect to be organ donors, and over 50% of death penalty inmates have hepatitis, and therefore cannot be organ donors. As such she asks; where are the organs coming from?
Not only was the content of Anastasia’s speech very interesting, so was her delivery. She spoke with such passion, clarity and bravery (since the content of her activism is not winning her any friends in China) you couldn’t help to be inspired. I am very glad the organisers for Students for Liberty were able to get her to speak to us.
In our free time after the conference, we went sightseeing around D.C. Washington D.C. is such an amazing city, with so much to see in such a small amount of time we had to prioritise. We walked from the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court down past the Washington Monument and ending at the Lincoln memorial. While at the memorial we had the opportunity to hear a bit about Lincoln’s life, and he was a very extraordinary person!