“If we don’t stand up for this, and these atrocities continue to happen, we can’t justify ourselves, and we can’t explain to our kids how we were silent when this thing happened.”
~ Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka, chairman of Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong
Organ removal, while not as prevalent as sex and labor trafficking, is quite real and widespread. Those targeted are sometimes killed or left for dead. More frequently poor and desperate people are lured by false promises. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers every year as demand outstrips the supply of organs legally available for transplant. A black market thrives as well in the trade of bones, blood and other body tissues. This activity is listed in the United Nations’ Trafficking in Persons Protocol:
Article 3(a)… Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
The inclusion of this form of exploitation into the Protocol is intended to cover those situations where a person is exploited for the purposes of a trafficker obtaining profit in the ‘organ market’, and situations where a person is trafficked for the purpose of the removal of their organs and/or body parts for purposes of witchcraft or traditional medicine. In the former situation, market forces drive supply and demand; those in desperate need of an organ transplant will purchase an organ from those who are desperately poor, or from ‘brokers’ who may have forcibly or deceptively obtained the organ.
Kidneys are generally supplied by live ‘donors’ in underdeveloped countries to developed ones. An article in the medical journal Lancet reported:
“…the circulation of kidneys followed established routes of capital from South to North, from East to West, from poorer to more affluent bodies, from black and brown bodies to white ones and from female to male or from poor, low status men to more affluent men. Women are rarely the recipients of purchased organs anywhere in the world.” (Scheper-Hughes,Vol. 361, 10 May 2003)
Transplant tourism depends on four populations: desperate patients willing to travel great distances and face considerable insecurity to obtain the transplants they need; equally desperate and mobile organ sellers; outlaw surgeons willing to break the law or ignore regulations and longstanding medical norms; and organs brokers and other intermediaries with established connections to the key players in the shadowy underworld of transplant tourism. In some developing countries, transplant tourism is vital to the medical economies of rapidly privatizing clinical and hospital services in poorer countries that are struggling to stay afloat. China has been widely implicated as a source of unethically obtained organs and body parts through its very opaque prison system.
In researching his book The Red Market (see below) author Scott Carney visited an Indian refugee camp for survivors of 2004’s massive tsunami. Today, the camp is known by the nickname Kidneyvakkam, or Kidneyville, because of how common it is for the women who live there to sell their kidneys.
“The women are just lined up,” Carney says. “They have their exposed midriffs and there are all these kidney extraction scars because when the tsunami happened, all these organ brokers came in and realized there were a lot of people in very desperate situations and they could turn a lot of quick cash by just convincing people to sell their kidneys.”
Ritual killings are very different from other enterprises. People who are killed for religious or ritualistic practices fall into this category. “Muti” (magical medicines used in some parts of Africa) involves the removal of body parts including skulls, hearts, eyes and genitals which are sold and used by deviant practitioners to increase wealth, influence, health or fertility. Muti killings, more correctly known as medicine murder are not human sacrifice in a religious sense, but rather involve the murder of someone in order to excise body parts for incorporation as ingredients into medicine and concoctions used in witchcraft. in 2010 Muti (also known as Muthi) killings are on the rise in South Africa. Some South Africans, especially in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, believe that the harvested body parts of children or old people will assist in them becoming rich and powerful. Most often victims are kidnapped before they are killed, and for that reason this form of murder may constitute human trafficking.
According to Christine Beddoe, director of the anti-trafficking charity Ecpat UK, a cultural belief in the power of human blood in so-called juju rituals is playing a part in the demand for African children. Testimonies from many of these children have revealed that once they arrive in Britain, they are exposed to violent and degrading treatments, often involving the forced extraction of their blood to be used for clients demanding blood rituals. According to a US State Department report, Uganda has become one of the main source countries for children to be bought and smuggled abroad. Some 9,000 children have gone missing in that country over the past four years. The head of Uganda’s Anti-Human Sacrifice Police Task Force, Commissioner Bignoa Moses, admits there is a problem: “We cannot rule out that children end up abroad because as of now we don’t have the capacity to monitor each individual and many simply disappear.”
YOU CAN HELP! Each day, about 77 people receive organ transplants. However, 19 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs. Anyone can play a significant role in alleviating the horrible abuses that stem from this shortfall… by simply becoming an organ and tissue donor. Few people are comfortable thinking about these issues, especially when it pertains to them personally. But think about this: suppose your life, or that of a loved one, hinged on the timely transplant of a suitable organ? Donors save lives. You can give the gift of life! Be an Organ and Tissue Donor. Registering as a potential organ donor is something everyone can do. Age is not a barrier, you are never too old. An organ donor card can be carried in the event of a fatal accident, but it is both wise and considerate to also make your wishes known to immediate family members and to have them clearly stated in your will.
Organ donation does not have to hinge upon your death!
Kidney donations are frequently made by healthy living donors, often to a friend or family member, but increasingly also to strangers in need. Risk to the donor, while not entirely absent, is very low with proper medical supervision and follow-up care. Considering giving this gift of life can be an enormously rewarding experience. A person suffering from kidney failure has three available treatment options: dialysis, a transplanted cadaver kidney or a transplant from a living donor. Dialysis itself is only a temporary solution. While it is certainly true that people can remain on dialysis for many years, it is an extremely time-consuming procedure and is not a cure.
The number of available cadaver kidneys falls far short of demand. In the U.S. alone, 83,000 people wait on the official kidney-transplant list. But just 16,500 people received a kidney transplant in 2008, while almost 5,000 died waiting for one. Obtaining an organ from a live donor is a way to remedy the shortfall.
It is said that saving one life is like saving the entire world. To learn more about organ donation and to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor in the U.S., visit: donatelife.net.
Patients with leukemia and related blood disorders can be helped by donations of bone marrow, stem cells and umbilical cord blood. Compatibility can be determined by a simple cheek swab. To learn more about registering as a possible bone marrow donor, visit: giftoflife.org.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no upper age limit for potential donors. It is never too late to give the gift of life:
Turning to the Kidney Black Market as a Last Resort, By: Ashwini Nagappan, Global Bioethics Initiative, Jan. 30, 2017
Black Market for Body Parts Spreads Among the Poor in Europe, By DAN BILEFSKY, New York Times, Published: June 28, 2012
In Discarding of Kidneys, System Reveals Its Flaws, By KEVIN SACK, New York Times, Published September 10, 2010
Organ Trafﬁcking and Transplant Tourism: A Commentary on the Global Realities, D. A. Budiani-Saberi and F. L. Delmonico, American Journal of Transplantation, 2008
China Moves to Stop Transplants of Organs After Executions, By KEITH BRADSHER, New York Times, Published: March 23, 2012
In Israel, a New Approach to Organ Donation, Danielle Ofri, M.D., New York Times, February 16, 2012
A Kidney to Give, Why I donated my kidney to someone I didn’t know, by Lori Platnik
Trial Begins on Trafficking of Organs in Kosovo, MATTHEW BRUNWASSER, New York Times, 10/5/11
Background Report on Human Trafficking for the Removal of Organs and Body Parts, United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (2008)
The Meat Market, By ALEX TABARROK, The Wall Street Journal, 01/08/2010
One Death Provides New Life for Many, DENISE GRADY, New York Times, 05/18/11
MOVIE: “Seven Pounds“, featuring Will Smith, Woody Harrelson, Rosario Dawson. A dramatic tale of redemption centered around multiple organ donations.
Fact: Organ Trafficking Is On The Rise, latest facts from Modern Injustice, 12/08/11
The worst form of human trafficking, The Washington Times, January 17, 2011