In the Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life, a man who signed an organ donor card is startled to find a pair of men knocking on his front door to harvest his liver. The fact the organ donor was not yet dead did not deter them and made for a scene that was hilarious — and rather gruesome. An article in the Weekly Standard describes the harvesting of organs from executed political prisoners in China:
[The surgeon] Enver worked fast, not bothering with clamps, cutting with his right hand, moving muscle and soft tissue aside with his left, slowing down only to make sure he excised the kidneys and liver cleanly. Even as Enver stitched the man back up—not internally, there was no point to that anymore, just so the body might look presentable—he sensed the man was still alive. I am a killer, Enver screamed inwardly. He did not dare to look at the face again, just as he imagined a killer would avoid looking at his victim.
…live organs had lower rejection rates in the new host, …the bullet to the chest had—other than that first sickening lurch—acted like some sort of magical anaesthesia. He had done what he could; he had stitched the body back neatly for the family.
In some cases a live prisoner was executed because his tissue matched a high ranking party official in need of an organ.