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Immoral Hunting for Organs

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The blazing hot sphere of glowing gases continued to creep upon young
Sarah as she followed her mother through the crowded Egyptian market.
It was a typical day, customers scurrying around hoping to leave with a
good bargain, tax collectors meticulously counting their obtained
treasures, and stubborn merchants laying out their never changing
prices. Suddenly, she felt her small, baby hands slip from that of her
mothers’. Panic struck her as fear made its presence known. Sarah’s
heart began to beat so rapidly that she felt as if it were going to
tear her chest open. Tall, strange figures loomed in front of her,
filling the gap between her mother and her. Out of nowhere, she felt a
blow on the back of her skull. Her vision blurred as her face came in
contact with the sandy pavement below her. The next thing she knew, her
languid body was laying helplessly on an unfamiliar ship sailing on the
Atlantic Ocean to a destination unknown to her at the time. Little did
young Sarah know, the kidnappers would not bring her to land in one

Despite various attempts by UN to alleviate this problem, organ
trafficking remains as one of the major issues affecting the healthcare
industry and the wellbeing of the people around the globe. The United
Nations defines trafficking as “transportation, transfer, harbouring or
receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other
forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse
of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or
receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person
having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”
(“The Protocol”). Exploitation includes the “removal of organs”, in
other words known as organ trafficking. However, the main problem with
the high demand for organs is that the demand greatly exceeds the
supply of organs. Therefore, most developed nations stand as recipients
of these organs while undeveloped nations stand as primary donors
(Vaknin). Due to high levels of poverty and low medical care people are
being coerced and deceived into selling their organs in return for
payment(Vaknin). Although most agree to donate their organs in return
for payment many do not receive the expected amount due to deception
and sometimes no payment at all (Vaknin). As seen in figure 1, every
year there are about 100,000 organs that need to be donated. Every year
approximately 65,700 kidney transplants, 21,000 liver transplants and
6,000 heart transplants are carried out.

Due to globalization of this issue, the United Nations and other
organizations have taken multiple steps to alleviate this issue. In
December of 2003, the United Nations established the Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women
and Children which was in response to the Convention against
Transnational Organised Crime. The United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crimes (UNODC) is in charge of implementing this protocol and 117
countries had already signed the protocol by 2009 (“The Protocol”). The
purpose of this protocol is to prevent trafficking and protect the
victims while promoting cooperation between nations to combat this
issue (“The Protocol”). Also, the UNODC has passed the Model Law of
Trafficking against Persons in 2009 in order to help implement the
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (“The
Protocol”). Even after all of these protocols were implemented, the
problem continues to rage on. Therefore, multiple solutions have been
proposed and debated to fight organ trafficking such as banning organ
trade as a whole, legalizing and regulating the organ trade, and
creating an opt in/opt out system in order to battle the lack of
organs. Transplant Waiting List, Sept. 2007(*) Source: United Network
for Organ Sharing Type of transplant Patients waiting Kidney 73,181
Liver 16,737 Heart 2,635 Lung 2,336 Kidney-pancreas 2,316 Pancreas
1,643 Intestine 210 Heart-lung 115 Total(1) 96,749 (*) As of Sept. 27,
2007. (1) Some patients are waiting for more than one organ; therefore
total number of patients waiting is less than the sum of patients
waiting for each organ.

Fig 1. A chart on transplant waiting list as of September 2007 is
presented Solution number one is simply to ban organ trade. According
to Albert Huebner, “legal organ trade will always lead to the
exploitation of impoverished donors”. Although banning may protect the
lives of many donors it does not however combat the organ shortage
problem which is one of the main causes of organ trafficking. Since the
lack of organs continues to persist, the black market will only
continue to increase and make the problem even worse.

Solution number two is to legalize and regulate organ trade. Sam Vaknin
concludes that “it is better to legalize and regulate the trade than
transform it into a form of organized crime” because the current ban
has created a black market for organs. Also, Vaknin describes how
Israelis- “attempting to avoid scrutiny”- travel to a foreign place in
order to perform or take part in the transplantation surgery which is
“euphemistically known as transplant tourism” (Vaknin). Through the use
of the word euphemistically the author alarms the audience in order to
convince his intended audience- the general public- about the evils of
transplant tourism. This helps him later on describe how unless this
organ trade is legalized and regulated, the process of traveling to
another county for illegal surgeries will simply continue to rise.
However, although legalization and regulation maybe implemented, it is
quite difficult for the United Nations to control such market on a
global scale. In fact black organ trade markets may even use the
concept of legalization to back up and support their actions. Even on a
national scale this regulation is complicated because many countries
such as Russia lack the funds and resources to effectively control the
organ market. In such case, many underdeveloped countries will have no
form of regulation. Also, although this approach may positively benefit
the recipients it may actually be a potential harm for the donors. Even
though organ trade is legalized organ trafficking will still remain
prevalent in lower developed countries. Overall, legalization and
regulation causes too many complications to combat this problem.

Since both ideas of solving this problem possess many ineffective
solutions, there is one proposal which seems to incorporate more
benefits than the previous ones. The best way to combat this problem is
to create an opt in/opt out system in which every citizen in a country
donate their organs after their death unless they decide not to. By
doing so the number of donors is naturally increasing and therefore,
the number of organs available also increases. This solves the problem
of lack of organs. Also, in order to control the trade an international
organ bank must be created which will make the regulation of the organs
much easier to manage. Since this problem is a global one it should be
solved at the global scale. This will also help solve the gap of the
eastern countries becoming the universal donors and the western
countries becoming the universal recipients. Implementing this strategy
satisfies the regulation and the adequacy of the organs.

Clearly the opt in/opt out system along with the creation of the
international organ bank is a more plausible solution to implement and
control from an international standpoint when compared to completely
banning or legalizing the trade because it not only brings forth an
effective way to control organ trade, but also ensures the adequacy of
organs. By combating the shortage of organs and undermining the black
market, the main causes of organ trafficking can be eliminated.

Works Cited Huebner, Albert. "The Selling of Body Parts Exploits the
Poor." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Web. 19 Feb. 2011.
"The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
especially Women and Children ." United Nations, 2000. Web. 17 Oct

. Transplant Waiting List, Sept. 2007.
Chart. World Almanac & Book of Facts, 2009. Vaknin, Sam. "The Sale of
Body Parts Should Be Regulated." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center.
Gale.Web. 19 Feb. 2011.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

stinkyMcBean said...
Apr. 21, 2011 at 7:07 am
I very much agree, but I need a kidney....
wordnerd54 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm
I had no idea that this was even an issue!  How disturbing- hopefully it will diminish in upcoming years.  Thank you for increasing awareness of such a frightening issue.
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