The declaration of Istanbul in the Philippines: success with foreigners but a continuing challenge for local transplant tourism.

Leonardo D. de Castro

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

2013, 16(4): 929-932

The Philippine government officially responded to the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and the related WHO Guidelines on organ transplantation by prohibiting all transplants to foreigners using Filipino organs. However, local tourists have escaped the regulatory radar, leaving a very wide gap in efforts against human trafficking and transplant tourism. Authorities need to deal with the situation seriously, at a minimum, by issuing clear procedures for verifying declarations of kinship or emotional bonds between donors and recipients. Foreigners who come to the country for transplants with same-nationality donors constitute a problem that is replicated in many transplant centers around the world. Also, emotionally related living donors continue to pose challenges for ethics committees, especially because of the realities associated with the existence of extended families. Those who find themselves facing these issues need to be armed with clear protocols for going through the process of verifying documents and individual declarations assiduously. There is also a need for international referral mechanisms at least to ensure that governments are aware when their citizens travel for transplant so they can take steps they consider suitable to address the vulnerabilities of exploited persons.

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