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Illegal human organ traffic flourishing in Latin America

The Americas Post - Organ donor illegal trafficking

The illegal trade in kidneys has risen to such a level that an estimated 10,000 black market operations involving purchased human organs now take place annually, or more than one an hour, World Health Organization (WHO) experts have revealed.

Evidence collected by a worldwide network of doctors shows that traffickers are defying laws intended to curtail their activities and are cashing in on rising international demand for replacement kidneys driven by the increase in diabetes and other diseases.

Though not comparable in size to other forms of human trafficking, such as forced labor and sexual exploitation, organ trafficking still represents a highly lucrative trade for criminal gangs. Organs Watch, an NGO that tracks illegal organ sales, estimates that up to 20000 kidneys alone are sold worldwide each year on the black market where they can fetch a price of around $150,000. Gangs are able to profit from this primarily through acting as brokers, linking buyers who typically originate from the western world and the Middle East to impoverished communities where people are willing to sell their organ in the hope of achieving some financial security. Though prices vary considerably around the world, a study made in 2005 found that on average a kidney would sell for $10,000 in Peru and around $6,000 in Brazil, offering brokers a potential profit margin of over 1000 percent. What’s more, there is no guarantee the seller will receive the promised amount in full.

Given this situation, at a meeting of judicial officials from Central America and the Dominican Republic last month, representatives from all countries agreed to set a minimum penalty for the crime of organ trafficking.

However, for transplants to happen the criminals need the illegal cooperation of a hospital and well-trained surgeons.

Another problem is the international legal framework. While organ trafficking is deemed to be illegal in almost every country in the world, the lack of a legal international framework is preventing governments from cracking down on the trade more effectively.