Organ Trafficking: Going Global

June 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

What do you think of when you hear the term “organ trafficking”? The first thing I think of when I hear the term “organ trafficking” is a back alley hospital in some third world country with less than sanitary conditions. I imagine a thug with a cooler that is duct taped shut walking into an office to negotiate a suitable price for the organ. This scenario, while plausible, is not necessarily the case. It appears that the illegal trafficking and trade of organs has become a global business that includes Europe and the United States.

Donors are generally driven to “donate” organs out of sheer economic desperation. Recipients are driven out of a different, no less urgent desperation, to seek these transplants as the wait list for some organs grows to 10 years or more in the United States alone. A donor can be paid as little as $1,000 USD for a kidney and the buyer may pay up to $150,000 USD for that same organ. Self preservation is a strong catalyst in seeking out any possible means of survival, but the wealthy among us have the upper hand..and often times appear willing to overlook ethical considerations in this world (no disrespect intended.)

Transplant Tourism, on the other hand, is a legal form of pursuing organ transplantation in other countries. This practice can be extremely dangerous when patients travel to countries such as Pakistan, China, or India where medical/surgical conditions may be sub-standard to say the least. China is known for transplanting organs from executed prisoners which itself may be a prescription for disease.

However terrible and unethical these practices are, it is understandable on certain level as a child or loved one may remain on a transplant list for years to come and a feeling of helplessness sets in as they die. I am just skimming the top of this complicated subject so please follow the links below to find out about organ trafficking, transplant tourism, and organ donation. *As of June 5th, 2010 at 6:40pm EST there were 107,915 waiting list candidates on the U.S. OPTN national patient waiting list.

Newsweek – Not Just Urban Legend
OrganDonor.gov
Transplant tourism poses ethical dilemma for US doctors

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