• GAEBA Media Release
    [read the full statement]


    Global eyecare community to unveil new ethical agreement for use of eye tissue

    Barcelona Thursday 14th June 2018: Members of the global eyecare and eye bank community unveiled the world’s first global Agreement on the use of donated human tissue for ocular transplantation, research, and future technologies, named the Barcelona Principles: An Agreement on the use of human donated tissue for ocular transplantation, research and future technologies.

     

    Read the Barcelona Agreement [here]

  • What should countries in the Global South do about Global Kidney Exchange programs International Policy Headlines | 08 June 2018
    [read the article]


    What should countries in the Global South do about Global Kidney Exchange (GKE) programs?

    Critics of GKE programs argue that it would offer financial and symbolic incentives that have the potential of promoting organ trafficking, that it wrongly assumes that low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) do not offer organ transplantation to those who need it, and would add barriers to the efforts that LMICs countries are already doing to improve their responses to end-stage renal failure and organ trafficking...

  • Qatar reaffirms its support to organ donation efforts Gulf Times | 26 May 2018
    [read the article]


    Qatar reaffirms its support to organ donation efforts

    Qatar reaffirmed on Saturday its support for concerted international efforts to develop ethical programmes for the donation and cultivation of human organs throughout the world. HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari made the remarks during a meeting discussing the establishment of organ transplant programmes around the world, as part of the ongoing meetings of the World Health Assembly in Geneva since Monday...

  • Donor organ rumors refuted in Geneva China Daily | 26 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By China Daily

    China to share organ transplant expertise

    Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and also a former vice-minister of health, was speaking at a side event, entitled "Towards Universal Access to Solid Organ Transplantation", during the 71st World Health Assembly, which is running from May 21-26...

  • Proposed Bill to prohibit Canadians participating in organ trafficking abroad  Epoch Times | 23 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By Omid Ghoreishi

    Senate Committee Hears from Experts on Human Organ Trafficking

    Senators in the upper house’s human rights standing committee heard on May 23 about why Canada should have its own legislation to combat organ trafficking. Bill aims to make it a criminal offence for Canadians to procure an organ abroad that was taken by force...

  • Egyptian police arrest organ trafficking ring in Cairo Ahram Online | 18 May 2018
    [read the article]


    Egyptian police arrest organ trafficking ring in Cairo

    Egypt’s interior ministry said on Friday it had arrested a number of people running an organ trafficking ring in Cairo.

    In an official statement, the interior ministry said the members of the ring had encouraged Egyptians on lower incomes in Cairo’s Ramses district to sell their organs.

    Three suspected members of the ring were arrested; one of the suspects, a butcher, had been given a 15-year prison term in a human trafficking case previously...

  • Proposed Bill on organtrafficking with extraterritorial implications Epoch Times | 17 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By Janita Kan

    NSW Takes Crucial Step In Fight Against Human Organ Trafficking, Targets Crimes Overseas

    Organ trafficking is a serious criminal offence in Australia but currently, state and commonwealth laws only prevent a person who is in Australia from engaging in an illegal trade of human organs. Loopholes in the legislation mean that if an Australia receives an organ in an illegal or unethical manner while overseas, they face no penalty when they return home.

  • GAEBA Media Release
    [read the full statement]


    Global eyecare community to unveil new ethical agreement for use of eye tissue

    Barcelona Thursday 14th June 2018: Members of the global eyecare and eye bank community unveiled the world’s first global Agreement on the use of donated human tissue for ocular transplantation, research, and future technologies, named the Barcelona Principles: An Agreement on the use of human donated tissue for ocular transplantation, research and future technologies.

     

    Read the Barcelona Agreement [here]

  • What should countries in the Global South do about Global Kidney Exchange programs International Policy Headlines | 08 June 2018
    [read the article]


    What should countries in the Global South do about Global Kidney Exchange (GKE) programs?

    Critics of GKE programs argue that it would offer financial and symbolic incentives that have the potential of promoting organ trafficking, that it wrongly assumes that low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) do not offer organ transplantation to those who need it, and would add barriers to the efforts that LMICs countries are already doing to improve their responses to end-stage renal failure and organ trafficking...

  • Qatar reaffirms its support to organ donation efforts Gulf Times | 26 May 2018
    [read the article]


    Qatar reaffirms its support to organ donation efforts

    Qatar reaffirmed on Saturday its support for concerted international efforts to develop ethical programmes for the donation and cultivation of human organs throughout the world. HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari made the remarks during a meeting discussing the establishment of organ transplant programmes around the world, as part of the ongoing meetings of the World Health Assembly in Geneva since Monday...

  • Donor organ rumors refuted in Geneva China Daily | 26 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By China Daily

    China to share organ transplant expertise

    Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and also a former vice-minister of health, was speaking at a side event, entitled "Towards Universal Access to Solid Organ Transplantation", during the 71st World Health Assembly, which is running from May 21-26...

  • Proposed Bill to prohibit Canadians participating in organ trafficking abroad  Epoch Times | 23 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By Omid Ghoreishi

    Senate Committee Hears from Experts on Human Organ Trafficking

    Senators in the upper house’s human rights standing committee heard on May 23 about why Canada should have its own legislation to combat organ trafficking. Bill aims to make it a criminal offence for Canadians to procure an organ abroad that was taken by force...

  • Egyptian police arrest organ trafficking ring in Cairo Ahram Online | 18 May 2018
    [read the article]


    Egyptian police arrest organ trafficking ring in Cairo

    Egypt’s interior ministry said on Friday it had arrested a number of people running an organ trafficking ring in Cairo.

    In an official statement, the interior ministry said the members of the ring had encouraged Egyptians on lower incomes in Cairo’s Ramses district to sell their organs.

    Three suspected members of the ring were arrested; one of the suspects, a butcher, had been given a 15-year prison term in a human trafficking case previously...

  • Proposed Bill on organtrafficking with extraterritorial implications Epoch Times | 17 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By Janita Kan

    NSW Takes Crucial Step In Fight Against Human Organ Trafficking, Targets Crimes Overseas

    Organ trafficking is a serious criminal offence in Australia but currently, state and commonwealth laws only prevent a person who is in Australia from engaging in an illegal trade of human organs. Loopholes in the legislation mean that if an Australia receives an organ in an illegal or unethical manner while overseas, they face no penalty when they return home.

  • India organ allocation Scroll.in | 09 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By Sanjay Nagral

    Who gives, who lives? India’s organ transplant system continues to favour the rich

    In some parts of India donations are increasingly saving lives. Organs are being transplanted across gender, caste and religious identities. But more than 95% of organ transplants are currently performed in the private sector where costs range from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh. Given the divisive times we are going through in this country, shouldn’t we be celebrating such acts of solidarity and kinship?

  • South Koreans traveling for transplant Korea Biomedical Review | 05 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By Marian Chu

    ‘South Korea indirectly fuels organ trafficking in China’

    South Koreans were one of the largest consumer groups of organ transplants in China, indirectly contributing to the unethical organ harvesting market there, speakers at a seminar said.

    The data on organ transplants were presented at the “Vital Link seminar,” hosted by the Korean Society for Transplantation, Vital Link, Korea Organ Donation Network, and the Korea Organ Donation Agency, at Seoul National University Hospital on Thursday...

  • Kosovo case Balkan Transitional Justice | 02 May 2018
    [read the article]


    By Dean B. Pineles

    Kosovo’s Medicus Case: Bad Omen for Rule of Law

    Six years of efforts to deliver justice were wasted when the defendants convicted in the Medicus organ-trafficking case were inexplicably sent for retrial, says a judge who served on the original trial panel.

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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