Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Price of Health: Organ Trafficking

This blog focuses on the injustices in the world, particularly in regards to the destitute of society, struggling to make ends meet or taken advantage of in the situation. Human trafficking is a complex issue that results in shattered lives and dehumanization.

Yet, there is much trafficked in the world: pharmaceuticals and people. But not only whole individuals. There is more that a person's body can provide beyond forced labor and sex. The body can also provide life. 

In legal spheres, donated organs, tissues, and surrogacy is common. A surrogate mother can provide a childless couple a new life. Donated blood, organs, tissues, can save or improve a life. These are positive and wonderful things. 

However, coercion of entering the organ black market and trafficking scene  is a lucrative business. All over the world, organs of human beings are being trafficked with or without the consent of those to whom they belong. These victims sell their own organs for a low price, often to the coercive criminal middlemen, who make thousands from the transaction. The recipients of the organs pay a much higher price than the donors receive, allowing the traffickers to pocket the rest. The middlemen do not necessarily match what you may expect: usually involved are skilled doctors, nurses, and funeral home directors, among others. 

Below is an infographic detailing the infamous Levy Rosenbaum Trial of 2011, an exemplar of the process within the United States:

The reason someone may need an organ is a complex issue with many factors, biological and socioeconomic components, going into the illness, diagnosis, and treatment. In the end, a person is acutely ill and in dire need of an organ. The number of people requiring a life-saving transplant continues to rise faster than the number of available donors. Approximately 300 new transplant candidates are added to the waiting list each month. There is a a shortage of organs and tissues donated legally, hence to avoid death, drastic measures are considered. 

Below is an infograph of how much a black market organ would cost:

Similarly, the reasons why an individual would sell an organ is as complex and influenced by the socioeconomic conditions the person finds him or herself in. The organs commonly transplanted include kidney, liver, heart, lung and pancreas, with a whole kidney the number one because we only "need" two to live. 

A great account of selling a kidney is below. The process offers quick cash and a certain limited freedom from poverty. The risks creates consequences that devastates the seller and family. However, business is still booming: 

For more information visit:

Trafficking in organs, tissues and cells and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs by Joint Council of Europe/ United Nations Study

Upstate New York Transplant Services' Myths & Misconceptions

Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)


Katherine Unique said...

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Katherine Unique

Michelle Verpuggi said...

great post! shall we follow by facebook and bloglovin?

Mili said...

That's so heart-breaking. It's hard to come to a moral conclusion about the whole debacle, but all the criminal activity around it is so sad.

Mili from call me, Maeby

Charles Tedrick said...

First off this is a great blog on the topic of organ trafficking. I have been doing a research paper over organ trafficking and found this blog to be a great starting point for information on the topic. Thus far in my research I have found many interesting details pertaining to organ trafficking that I was unaware of. A major contributor to organ trafficking is largely due to what was called transplant tourism. this is the act of individuals that travel to other countries in order to acquire an organ they need. Usually the buyer is from a more developed country. From the information I have found there are many issues with combating organ trafficking because it operates in the shadows. That is why blogs like this are great because it spreads awareness which will in turn make advances to better solutions.