• The-Pontifical-Academy-of-Sciences- -February-13-2017The Pontifical Academy of Sciences | February 13, 2017
    [read the statement]


    On 7-8 February, the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group (DICG) Executive, representatives of the DICG board and of its membership participated in a Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism convened by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican City.

    A Statement was released which calls upon governments, ministries of health, judiciary systems, religious leaders, professional healthcare associations, and the general public to condemn human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal and organ trafficking and acknowledge them as ‘crimes against humanity’. The Statement proposes specific measures to combat and prevent these crimes and to protect their victims.

    Together with the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, a key reference for the Statement, this Summit represents a milestone in the fight against practices that violate fundamental human rights, represent a threat to individual and public health and tarnish the magnificence of transplantation. The statement is available from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences here.

  • The-Times-of-India- -February-13-2017The Times of India | February 13, 2017
    [read the article]


    Doctors allege illegal organ trade on the rise in major hospitals too

    Panaji: Stating that the illegal organ donation is now finding its way into bigger hospitals as well, a panel of experts, comprising of doctors and activists was of the opinion that laws regulating organ donations need to be amended along with strict implementation...

  • Hurriyet-Daily-News- -February-12-2017Hürriyet Daily News | February 12, 2017
    [read the article]


    Turkey sees rise in transplant operations

    The number of people travelling to Turkey for transplant operations has doubled in the last two years, a specialist doctor told state-run Anadolu Agency on Feb. 10.    

    Eyüp Kahveci, chairman of the Turkey Transplantation Fund Board, delivered a speech highlighting some of the key issues of transplant operations at the Istanbul workshop of the International Transplantation Network Project, which was set up in 2015...

  • World-Federation-of-the-Catholic-Medical-Associations- -February-9-2017World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations | February 9, 2017
    [read the article]


    FIAMC SIGNS THE STATEMENT ON ORGAN TRAFFICKING

    In accordance with the Resolutions of the United Nations and the World Health Assembly, the 2015 Vatican Summit of Mayors from the major cities of the world, the 2014 Joint Declaration of faith leaders against modern slavery, and the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who in June 2016, at the Judges’ Summit on Human Trafficking and Organized Crime, stated that organ trafficking and human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal are “true crimes against humanity [that] need to be recognized as such by all religious, political and social leaders, and by national and international legislation,” we, the undersigned participants of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Summit on Organ Trafficking, resolve to combat these crimes against humanity through comprehensive efforts that involve all stakeholders around the world...

  • The-Age- -February-8-2017The Age | February 8, 2017
    [read the article]


    By Philip Pullella

    China promises to punish unethical organ harvesting, 'mend its ways'

    Beijing's top official on transplants said on Tuesday his country was emerging from a murky past when organs were taken from detained or executed prisoners...

  • Rome-Reports- -February-8-2017Rome Reports | February 8, 2017
    [read the article]


    El Vaticano planta cara al tráfico de órganos y reúne a representantes de 52 países

    Por primera vez en la historia, el Vaticano ha organizado un encuentro para tratar el oscuro tráfico de órganos y el turismo de trasplantes en más de 50 países del mundo. Se trata de otra forma de esclavitud moderna que el Papa Francisco está empeñado en denunciar. Por eso, fue él mismo quien pidió a la Pontificia Academia de las Ciencias que organizara el congreso...

  • Catholic-News-Service- -February-8-2017Catholic News Service | February 8, 2017
    [read the article]


    By Carol Glatz

    No nation is free of organ trafficking, say speakers at Vatican summit

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — No country is immune to the trafficking of organs, which has become a global problem that demands a concerted and cooperative response, said a number of speakers at a Vatican summit...

  • The-Pontifical-Academy-of-Sciences- -February-13-2017The Pontifical Academy of Sciences | February 13, 2017
    [read the statement]


    On 7-8 February, the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group (DICG) Executive, representatives of the DICG board and of its membership participated in a Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism convened by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican City.

    A Statement was released which calls upon governments, ministries of health, judiciary systems, religious leaders, professional healthcare associations, and the general public to condemn human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal and organ trafficking and acknowledge them as ‘crimes against humanity’. The Statement proposes specific measures to combat and prevent these crimes and to protect their victims.

    Together with the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, a key reference for the Statement, this Summit represents a milestone in the fight against practices that violate fundamental human rights, represent a threat to individual and public health and tarnish the magnificence of transplantation. The statement is available from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences here.

  • The-Times-of-India- -February-13-2017The Times of India | February 13, 2017
    [read the article]


    Doctors allege illegal organ trade on the rise in major hospitals too

    Panaji: Stating that the illegal organ donation is now finding its way into bigger hospitals as well, a panel of experts, comprising of doctors and activists was of the opinion that laws regulating organ donations need to be amended along with strict implementation...

  • Hurriyet-Daily-News- -February-12-2017Hürriyet Daily News | February 12, 2017
    [read the article]


    Turkey sees rise in transplant operations

    The number of people travelling to Turkey for transplant operations has doubled in the last two years, a specialist doctor told state-run Anadolu Agency on Feb. 10.    

    Eyüp Kahveci, chairman of the Turkey Transplantation Fund Board, delivered a speech highlighting some of the key issues of transplant operations at the Istanbul workshop of the International Transplantation Network Project, which was set up in 2015...

  • World-Federation-of-the-Catholic-Medical-Associations- -February-9-2017World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations | February 9, 2017
    [read the article]


    FIAMC SIGNS THE STATEMENT ON ORGAN TRAFFICKING

    In accordance with the Resolutions of the United Nations and the World Health Assembly, the 2015 Vatican Summit of Mayors from the major cities of the world, the 2014 Joint Declaration of faith leaders against modern slavery, and the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who in June 2016, at the Judges’ Summit on Human Trafficking and Organized Crime, stated that organ trafficking and human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal are “true crimes against humanity [that] need to be recognized as such by all religious, political and social leaders, and by national and international legislation,” we, the undersigned participants of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Summit on Organ Trafficking, resolve to combat these crimes against humanity through comprehensive efforts that involve all stakeholders around the world...

  • The-Age- -February-8-2017The Age | February 8, 2017
    [read the article]


    By Philip Pullella

    China promises to punish unethical organ harvesting, 'mend its ways'

    Beijing's top official on transplants said on Tuesday his country was emerging from a murky past when organs were taken from detained or executed prisoners...

  • Rome-Reports- -February-8-2017Rome Reports | February 8, 2017
    [read the article]


    El Vaticano planta cara al tráfico de órganos y reúne a representantes de 52 países

    Por primera vez en la historia, el Vaticano ha organizado un encuentro para tratar el oscuro tráfico de órganos y el turismo de trasplantes en más de 50 países del mundo. Se trata de otra forma de esclavitud moderna que el Papa Francisco está empeñado en denunciar. Por eso, fue él mismo quien pidió a la Pontificia Academia de las Ciencias que organizara el congreso...

  • Catholic-News-Service- -February-8-2017Catholic News Service | February 8, 2017
    [read the article]


    By Carol Glatz

    No nation is free of organ trafficking, say speakers at Vatican summit

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — No country is immune to the trafficking of organs, which has become a global problem that demands a concerted and cooperative response, said a number of speakers at a Vatican summit...

  • The-Express-Tribune- -February-4-2017The Express Tribune | February 4, 2017
    [read the article]


    Illegal Kidney Trade: Two suspected organ traffickers held

    Destitute had been brought to the garrison city on the pretext of being provided jobs from different parts of Punjab...

  • Amend-organ-transplantation-lawThe Daily Star | January 30, 2017
    [read the article]


    Amend organ transplantation law to increase kidney donations: Experts

    Health experts have called for amending the law on organ transplantation to increase kidney donations, as the number of kidney patients is going up in the country amid shortage of kidney donors, during a programme held at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) on January 30, 2017...

  • Organ-Trafficking-slips-through-cracksThe Indian Express | January 17, 2017
    [read the article]


    By Tabassum Barnagarwala

    Rewind Kidney racket: Probe into three transplants at a standstill

    According to senior health officials, the new guidelines will subsequently make the DHS the authority to probe such cases. “Until then, the inquiry into remaining cases will remain pending,” said a DHS official. Previously, a three-member DHS committee was probing the kidney transplants to aid the police on alleged violations to the Transplantation of Human Organs Act...

  • BBC- -January-24-2017BBC | January 24, 2017
    [read the article]


    By Ruth Evans

    Pakistani police rescue 24 from organ trafficking gang

    Alert raised after patients from UK, Canada and Australia develop complications following kidney transplants...

The Risk of Discrimination and Stigmatization in Organ Transplantation and Trafficking

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 5.36.37 pmAlireza Bagheri. 2015. "The Risk of Discrimination and Stigmatization in Organ Transplantation and Trafficking" In Bagheri, A., Moreno, J., Semplici, S. (Ed.s). Global Bioethics: The Impact of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee. Springer.

The global shortage of organs for transplantation has led to unethical practices in organ transplantation, such as organ commercialism and trafficking. Concerns have been raised about unjust and discriminatory allocation of the available organs in organ transplant programs as well as exploitation and stigmatization of individuals who provide their organs through organ trafficking and tourism. There have been global efforts to describe unethical practices in organ transplantation and in tackling organ commercialism and trafficking, international documents have justified their arguments mostly based on the exploitation inherent in organ sales and trafficking. Missing in the discussion of organ transplantation and trafficking are the perspectives of vulnerable patients as organ recipients and poor people as organ providers, and the discrimination and stigmatization they experience.
This chapter elaborates the risk of discrimination and stigmatization in organ transplantation and trafficking, and reviews current global efforts against unethical practice in organ transplantation, including the recent UNESCO report on non-discrimination and non-stigmatization. It calls all stakeholders to ensure that in the process of organ transplantation, organ donors and recipients are not subject to discrimination and stigmatization.

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.

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