• the hinduThe Hindu | August 9, 2015

    [read the article]


    By K. V. Aditya Bharadwaj

    Illegal organ donation rackets are not uncommon in India. But the latest one unearthed in Karnataka last month has exposed how the trade has flourished unabated in a systematic manner and has direct connections with private hospitals and even the State Authorisation Committee, a body that is meant to weed out illegal organ transplants.

    The epicentre of the racket is the unassuming dusty town of Magadi, 55 km from Bengaluru, and known to many people in Bangalore as only a pit stop on the way to Mysuru. In the illegal organ trade, Magadi seems to have become an organ market. Three rackets have been busted here in the last eight years and, shockingly, it is the same gang all three times. The touts were arrested each time and let off.

    However, while earlier probes ended with the touts, the latest racket has for the first time led to the arrests of employees of a leading private hospital chain and members of the State Authorisation Committee for organ transplants...

  • Times of IndiaThe Times of India | August 6, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Snehlata Shrivasta

    NAGHPUR: Organ donation activists have stated the adoption of 'Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules 2014' (THOTR) of Central government by the state government has come at a very appropriate time, especially for Nagpur, where cadaver donation has picked up (12 in last two years) very well in past two years. It will hasten the process of declaration of brain death in a patient, retrieval of organs and transplanting it in the recipient.

    Speaking to TOI on the eve of the National Organ Donation day on Thursday Dr Ravi Wankhede, in-charge of MOHAN foundation that works for promotion of organ donation in city and region, said the rules will now make the entire donation and transplantation process simpler...

  • American LawyerThe American Lawyer | July 27, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Michael D. Goldhaber

    It's been called "the most brazen case of Jersey-style corruption—ever." The "Jersey Sting" of 2009 netted five money-laundering rabbis, the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, and a former burlesque star named Hope Diamond who had become deputy mayor of Jersey City. But easily the most colorful figure was an ultra-Orthodox kibitzer and self-confessed schmearer named Levy Izhak Rosenbaum. For a decade Rosenbaum hawked Israeli kidneys with impunity at American medical establishments from Einstein Medical Center to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

    As the first and only use of the National Organ Transplantation Act, Rosenbaum's prosecution and 2011 guilty plea drew attention to a shadowy trade that, according to the nonprofit Organs Watch, rips 10,000 kidneys each year from the bodies of the world's most desperate. Europe experienced a similar moment in 2013, when an EU court in Kosovo convicted five members of a kidney trafficking ring, and sentenced the clinic's medical director to eight years in prison. Organ trafficking came out of the shadows in Africa and Latin America in 2010, when the Netcare KwaZulu hospital group pleaded guilty to aiding the transplant of black market kidneys that mostly originated in Brazil...

     
     
  • The China PostThe China Post | June 10, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Sun Hsin-hsuan 

    Patients receiving illegal organ transplants overseas will be facing a maximum of five years in prison and a NT$300,000 fine if amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act pass the Legislative Yuan, which is likely to happen, according to legislators.

    According to Po-chang Lee (李伯璋), chairman of Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center (TWRSC, 器官捐贈移植登錄中心), Taiwanese patients still participate in organ trading in mainland China, which permits organ trafficking. Lawmakers aim to curb this brutal act by making it a crime at home.

    In May, amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act were proposed, introducing new aspects to the act. Firstly, those undertaking organ trades and transplants arranged overseas will face criminal punishment when patients return to the nation.

    Secondly, regulations will make it illegal for organs from criminals sentenced to death to be used in patients.

    According to Chen, the controversial issue lies within the diagnosis of brain death. Criminal law allows forensic scientists only 20 minutes in the execution chamber to determine brain death, Chen said.

    Under such circumstances, criminals may be certified as brain dead prematurely and medical teams may consequently be removing organs from a living person. "Such cases have really happened," Chen said, adding that it is will be against the law to remove organs from an executed criminal. Moreover, many professional medical teams have refused to conduct such operations.

    The third amendment is to mandate officials to enquire whether a person is willing to donate organs after death when reissuing driver's licenses, ID cards, or National Health Insurance cards...

  • The Independent SpainThe Independent | May 18, 2015

    [read the article]


    Spanish police say they have arrested five people suspected of trying to force a Moroccan immigrant to sell one of his kidneys for 6,000 euro (£4,300).

    A police statement said the man tried to pull out of the deal while undergoing clinical tests but the group kidnapped him and threatened to kill him if he did not go ahead.

    The statement said the alleged buyer was a leader of a criminal gang whose son had kidney problems.

    Spain's National Transplant Organisation alerted police to the case...

  • Guardian IranThe Guardian | May 10, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Francesco Alesi and Luca Muzi

    A strong hot wind blows from the desert and, around the Iranian city of Ahvaz, flames from the chimneys of the oil refineries all bend in the direction of the Persian Gulf. On the road, a festive crowd advances though the dust raised by the wind, to the sound of drums. Shiites are celebrating Ashura. Ghaffar goes to his window to watch: he would like to be with them, but he is in a hospital waiting for a kidney transplant.

    In the female transplants unit, the rhythm of the drums drowns out the cheerful chatter of three young patients. Tandis and Chaman are showing Narin the scars on their chest – they have received kidneys and are currently recovering. Narin will have a similar scar soon: she has sold one of her kidneys to Ghaffar...

  • The Straits Times

    The Straits Times | May 14, 2015

    [read the article]


    JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday charged seven people with international organ trafficking and organising illegal transplants, the justice ministry said.

    The Israeli suspects organised or performed transplants in Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Kosovo, using paid local donors for Israeli recipients, it said.

    "The accused ran a real business in trafficking organs, on dozens of occasions over the course of years, exploiting the financial distress of the donors and the health crisis of the recipients for economic gain," it said....

    dJERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday charged seven people with international organ trafficking and organising illegal transplants, the justice ministry said.

    The Israeli suspects organised or performed transplants in Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Kosovo, using paid local donors for Israeli recipients, it said.

    "The accused ran a real business in trafficking organs, on dozens of occasions over the course of years, exploiting the financial distress of the donors and the health crisis of the recipients for economic gain," it said.

    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/world/middle-east/story/israel-charges-seven-international-organ-trafficking-20150514#sthash.zYmGO8Q8.dpuf
  • the hinduThe Hindu | August 9, 2015

    [read the article]


    By K. V. Aditya Bharadwaj

    Illegal organ donation rackets are not uncommon in India. But the latest one unearthed in Karnataka last month has exposed how the trade has flourished unabated in a systematic manner and has direct connections with private hospitals and even the State Authorisation Committee, a body that is meant to weed out illegal organ transplants.

    The epicentre of the racket is the unassuming dusty town of Magadi, 55 km from Bengaluru, and known to many people in Bangalore as only a pit stop on the way to Mysuru. In the illegal organ trade, Magadi seems to have become an organ market. Three rackets have been busted here in the last eight years and, shockingly, it is the same gang all three times. The touts were arrested each time and let off.

    However, while earlier probes ended with the touts, the latest racket has for the first time led to the arrests of employees of a leading private hospital chain and members of the State Authorisation Committee for organ transplants...

  • Times of IndiaThe Times of India | August 6, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Snehlata Shrivasta

    NAGHPUR: Organ donation activists have stated the adoption of 'Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules 2014' (THOTR) of Central government by the state government has come at a very appropriate time, especially for Nagpur, where cadaver donation has picked up (12 in last two years) very well in past two years. It will hasten the process of declaration of brain death in a patient, retrieval of organs and transplanting it in the recipient.

    Speaking to TOI on the eve of the National Organ Donation day on Thursday Dr Ravi Wankhede, in-charge of MOHAN foundation that works for promotion of organ donation in city and region, said the rules will now make the entire donation and transplantation process simpler...

  • American LawyerThe American Lawyer | July 27, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Michael D. Goldhaber

    It's been called "the most brazen case of Jersey-style corruption—ever." The "Jersey Sting" of 2009 netted five money-laundering rabbis, the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, and a former burlesque star named Hope Diamond who had become deputy mayor of Jersey City. But easily the most colorful figure was an ultra-Orthodox kibitzer and self-confessed schmearer named Levy Izhak Rosenbaum. For a decade Rosenbaum hawked Israeli kidneys with impunity at American medical establishments from Einstein Medical Center to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

    As the first and only use of the National Organ Transplantation Act, Rosenbaum's prosecution and 2011 guilty plea drew attention to a shadowy trade that, according to the nonprofit Organs Watch, rips 10,000 kidneys each year from the bodies of the world's most desperate. Europe experienced a similar moment in 2013, when an EU court in Kosovo convicted five members of a kidney trafficking ring, and sentenced the clinic's medical director to eight years in prison. Organ trafficking came out of the shadows in Africa and Latin America in 2010, when the Netcare KwaZulu hospital group pleaded guilty to aiding the transplant of black market kidneys that mostly originated in Brazil...

     
     
  • The China PostThe China Post | June 10, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Sun Hsin-hsuan 

    Patients receiving illegal organ transplants overseas will be facing a maximum of five years in prison and a NT$300,000 fine if amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act pass the Legislative Yuan, which is likely to happen, according to legislators.

    According to Po-chang Lee (李伯璋), chairman of Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center (TWRSC, 器官捐贈移植登錄中心), Taiwanese patients still participate in organ trading in mainland China, which permits organ trafficking. Lawmakers aim to curb this brutal act by making it a crime at home.

    In May, amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act were proposed, introducing new aspects to the act. Firstly, those undertaking organ trades and transplants arranged overseas will face criminal punishment when patients return to the nation.

    Secondly, regulations will make it illegal for organs from criminals sentenced to death to be used in patients.

    According to Chen, the controversial issue lies within the diagnosis of brain death. Criminal law allows forensic scientists only 20 minutes in the execution chamber to determine brain death, Chen said.

    Under such circumstances, criminals may be certified as brain dead prematurely and medical teams may consequently be removing organs from a living person. "Such cases have really happened," Chen said, adding that it is will be against the law to remove organs from an executed criminal. Moreover, many professional medical teams have refused to conduct such operations.

    The third amendment is to mandate officials to enquire whether a person is willing to donate organs after death when reissuing driver's licenses, ID cards, or National Health Insurance cards...

  • The Independent SpainThe Independent | May 18, 2015

    [read the article]


    Spanish police say they have arrested five people suspected of trying to force a Moroccan immigrant to sell one of his kidneys for 6,000 euro (£4,300).

    A police statement said the man tried to pull out of the deal while undergoing clinical tests but the group kidnapped him and threatened to kill him if he did not go ahead.

    The statement said the alleged buyer was a leader of a criminal gang whose son had kidney problems.

    Spain's National Transplant Organisation alerted police to the case...

  • Guardian IranThe Guardian | May 10, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Francesco Alesi and Luca Muzi

    A strong hot wind blows from the desert and, around the Iranian city of Ahvaz, flames from the chimneys of the oil refineries all bend in the direction of the Persian Gulf. On the road, a festive crowd advances though the dust raised by the wind, to the sound of drums. Shiites are celebrating Ashura. Ghaffar goes to his window to watch: he would like to be with them, but he is in a hospital waiting for a kidney transplant.

    In the female transplants unit, the rhythm of the drums drowns out the cheerful chatter of three young patients. Tandis and Chaman are showing Narin the scars on their chest – they have received kidneys and are currently recovering. Narin will have a similar scar soon: she has sold one of her kidneys to Ghaffar...

  • The Straits Times

    The Straits Times | May 14, 2015

    [read the article]


    JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday charged seven people with international organ trafficking and organising illegal transplants, the justice ministry said.

    The Israeli suspects organised or performed transplants in Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Kosovo, using paid local donors for Israeli recipients, it said.

    "The accused ran a real business in trafficking organs, on dozens of occasions over the course of years, exploiting the financial distress of the donors and the health crisis of the recipients for economic gain," it said....

    dJERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday charged seven people with international organ trafficking and organising illegal transplants, the justice ministry said.

    The Israeli suspects organised or performed transplants in Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Kosovo, using paid local donors for Israeli recipients, it said.

    "The accused ran a real business in trafficking organs, on dozens of occasions over the course of years, exploiting the financial distress of the donors and the health crisis of the recipients for economic gain," it said.

    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/world/middle-east/story/israel-charges-seven-international-organ-trafficking-20150514#sthash.zYmGO8Q8.dpuf
  • COE Conference on the conventionCouncil of Europe | May 4, 2015


    The Council of Europe has released the conclusions of the high level international conference on the fight against Trafficking in Human Organs which took place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain in March this year.

    The report of these conclusions notes that trafficking in human organs is "a global problem" which "violates the dignity of human beings...[and] undermines trust in the efficiency and fairness of the public health system".

    The report explains the significance and value of the new Convention against trafficking in human organs.

    The conference report is freely available courtesy of the Council of Europe in Español, Français, English and Русский.

    For more information about the Convention, please click here.

     

     

  • ABC on ChinaABC News | April 20, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Huey Fern Tay

    Medical workers ran into the hospital as soon as the helicopter landed in Zhengzhou, central-eastern China.

    The box they were carrying contained a liver and two kidneys that had been donated by a man in the same province.

    A surgeon emerged eight hours later to declare the liver transplant operation a success.

    The wife of the male recipient looked relieved as she thanked the mystery donor and his family for saving her husband's life.

    This touching account was covered by a satellite television channel run by the local province of Henan; one of many reports that have featured in the Chinese media over the past few months.

    Those involved in the campaign to promote organ donations speak excitedly about upcoming projects.

    "In future we may make some documentaries and movies," deputy director of the China Organ Administrative Centre Dr Gao Xinpu said...

  • The ScotsmanThe Scotsman | March 31, 2015

    [Read the article here]


     By Calum MacKellar

    According to the World Health Organisation, the international trafficking of organs is a growing problem with about 10,000 organs being bought and sold on the black market every year around the world. While there is a small market for hearts, lungs and other body parts, it is kidneys that represent the large majority of organs being trafficked since most people are born with two kidneys and it is possible to survive with only one.

    The countries in which organs are being bought from individuals are some of the most impoverished in South America, Africa and Asia, while recipient countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK and Japan.

    Trafficking persons for organs involves a whole host of offenders including recruiters who identify potential organ providers, those who arrange transport to the hospitals, the clinical staff responsible for the surgery and the salesmen who organise the trade. Moreover, because of the involvement of so many national and international players, the trafficking is difficult to police...

  •  the daily beast

    The Daily Beast | April 4, 2015

    [read the article]


    By Bill Katsasos

    BEIRUT — Lebanon has long been known for unrepentant, sometimes shocking you-can-get-anything-you-want commercialism. But there is a business thriving here now that turns the stomach. As Syrian refugees have poured across the border—they now number 1.3 million in a country whose population previously was 4.5 million—human vultures have closed in on them.

    These war profiteers are looking for bits and pieces of people, a kidney here, a cornea there, which can be sold to desperate clients coming from as far away as Finland and Venezuela.
    Who are these middlemen? Their victims do not want to say. Where are the surgeries performed? Another closely guarded secret, and not only here in Lebanon.
    The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) defines the illicit trade in organs around the world as “an organized crime involving a host of offenders”...

Incentives, kidney donation, and the myth of the Iranian waiting list

In a recent New York Times article, Tina Rosenberg argues that the United States should introduce financial incentives for living kidney donors. She writes, “In 2014, there were 17,106 kidney transplants in the United States, but more than twice that many people went on the waiting list.”

She believes that use of incentives could resolve this problem because the legal Iranian market for organs has “essentially eliminated” the waiting list for a kidney.

Such claims about the Iranian waiting list, which are commonly invoked in support of kidney markets in the United States and elsewhere, are simply false. People with end stage kidney failure living in the United States are more likely to receive a transplant than those living in Iran. Commentators debating the issue of incentives for donation have a responsibility to draw on the best available evidence in their arguments, and should not simply recycle and perpetuate myths about the success of the Iranian market.

What counts as proof that a waiting list has been eliminated?

The alleged success of the Iranian kidney market is regularly cited in public commentary and academic debate by advocates of financial incentives. References in scholarly publications can usually be traced back to a 2002 publication by Iranian nephrologist Ghods in which he declared that, “the renal transplant waiting list [in Iran] was eliminated by the end of 1999.”

What does it mean to “eliminate” a waiting list for transplantation? In many countries people in need of a kidney transplant may be unable to join a national waiting list for transplantation because

  • They cannot access healthcare services necessary for diagnosis of kidney failure, or required to prepare them for transplantation such as dialysis;
  • They cannot afford transplantation services or immunosuppression;
  • They do not meet eligibility criteria for the waiting list, where criteria such as age or comorbidities are designed to keep the list sufficiently short to match the supply of organs available for transplant;
  • There is no national waiting list for transplantation.

In a 2006 publication by Ghods and Savaj which is also cited as evidence that incentives have solved the problem of organ shortages in Iran, the authors again claim that “by 1999, the renal transplant waiting lists in the country was eliminated successfully”. In this paper, they offer an explanation which shows that the size of the waiting list in Iran is influenced by lower rates of diagnosis of end stage kidney disease:

In Iran, as in other developing countries, the prevalence of patients with ESRD is markedly lower compared with the prevalence of patients who are on renal replacement therapy in developed countries. A major cause of this is the many patients who are from villages and small towns and do not receive a diagnosis and are not referred for dialysis therapy. There also is no adopted restricting policy for accepting patients with ESRD for renal transplantation; however, the low prevalence of patients with ESRD results in fewer numbers of transplant candidates. This is the main reason that the renal transplant waiting list was eliminated quickly and successfully in Iran….”

Ghods, A. J., & Savaj, S. (2006). Iranian model of paid and regulated living-unrelated kidney donation. Clinical journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 1(6), 1136-1145. (p.1139)

The truth about the Iranian waiting list

Claims about the successful elimination of the Iranian waiting list in the early 2000s were questioned by commentators such as Griffin. However, incentive advocates have preferred to express ethical concerns about some elements of the Iranian model, arguing that better regulated incentive systems will address these, rather than to question the success of the model.

Commentators writing today ought to draw on more recent analysis of the Iranian market. A recent report by Iranian experts clearly shows that there is indeed a waiting list for kidney transplantation in Iran:

Rouchi, A. H., Ghaemi, F., & Aghighi, M. (2014). Outlook of Organ Transplantation in Iran. Iranian journal of kidney diseases, 8(3).

In this paper, the authors provide the following table summarising the disparity between the number of transplants and the number of patients waitlisted for transplantation in 2011:

Iran Waiting list

The authors note that, “the never-disappearing waiting list for kidney transplantation will be growing steadily”.

UNODC publishes toolkit for assessment of trafficking in persons for organ removal

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 5.11.07 pmThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has published a toolkit for use in the assessment of trafficking in persons for organ removal.

"The toolkit aims to provide both a general overview of trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal and specific tools to assist concerned actors with assessing the phenomenon. The structure of the toolkit reflects this two-pronged approach in that its first part seeks to inform about the context in which trafficking in persons for organ removal can take place, the relevant legislative framework and international guidance, actors and modi operandi as well as good practice responses. The second part has very specific questionnaires that aim to allow for a better understanding of and a more systematic collection of data on the crime."

You can download the Assessment Toolkit here courtesy of UNODC.

Financial Incentives for Living Kidney Donors: Are They Necessary?

AJKD

 2015; Published online June 6


Dominique E. Martin and Sarah L. White

In the face of the perceived failure of altruistic organ donation programs to generate sufficient kidneys to meet demand, introducing financial incentives for living donors is sometimes argued as the only effective strategy by which lives currently lost while awaiting kidney transplantation might be saved. This argument from life-saving necessity is implicit in many incentive proposals, but rarely challenged by opponents. The core empirical claims on which it rests are thus rarely interrogated: that the gap between supply of and demand for donor kidneys is large and growing, the current system cannot meet demand, and financial incentives would increase the overall supply of kidneys and thus save lives. We consider these claims in the context of the United States. While we acknowledge the plausibility of claims that incentives, if sufficiently large, may successfully recruit greater numbers of living donors, we argue that strategies compatible with the existing altruistic system may also increase the supply of kidneys and save lives otherwise lost to kidney failure. We conclude that current appeals to the life-saving necessity argument have yet to establish sufficient grounds to justify trials of incentives.

To read the complete article, click here. (Subscription required.)

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