Sunday, June 03, 2012

Illegal Organ Trafficking is Big Business!


Global organ harvesting a booming black market business; a kidney harvested every hour
by J. D. Heyes
Sunday, June 03, 2012
(NaturalNews) In this age of instant, mass communication, it's hard to cover up virtually anything, and yet there's one story that has yet to be told on a wide scale - how organ trafficking has ballooned into a global business and that the practice is so widespread, one organ is sold every hour.
That's according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said recently in a report that there are new fears the illegal organ trade may once again be rising.
Here's the way the process is supposed to work, at least in the U.S.:
According to the Web site, which is operated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the first part is for people to actually enroll as donors, and this generally happens on the state level. "Most often this happens when obtaining or renewing a driver's license or by going on-line for those state registries that have an Internet registration capacity," the site says.
At some point the donor is admitted to a hospital; most donors are victims of severe head trauma. When donors are thought to be near death and all lifesaving techniques have been exhausted and the donor/patient is still not responding, "a physician will perform a series of tests, usually on multiple occasions, to determine if brain death has occurred," says the HHS site. That test is usually performed by a neurosurgeon who must follow both state law and accepted medical practice.
Regulated and safe - as long as you're working within the system
Then, the hospital - in compliance with federal regulations - notifies a local organ procurement organization (OPO), giving the OPO information about the deceased to confirm his or her potential to be a donor. "If the patient is a potential candidate for donation, an OPO representative immediately travels to the hospital," HHS says.
Next, the OPO searches the state's donor database to see if the deceased signed up to become a donor and if so, that will serve as consent. If the deceased had not signed up as a donor the OPO will contact the next-of-kin to obtain consent. "When consent is obtained, medical evaluation will continue, including obtaining the deceased's complete medical and social history from the family," said HHS.
After more testing does not rule out the deceased as a donor, then the search begins for a recipient or, in many cases, recipients. This is done on a national level through the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. When donors are found, the organs are transported to them, and surgeons transplant them.
Now, contrast that regulated, organized process with the illicit global organ trade, which has virtually no such protections and you can begin to see the health implications of operating outside the system.
Yet, many still do. According to WHO, an estimated 10,000 organs a year are not handled in that way; in fact, the organization says the rise in illicit organ trading comes on the back of a soaring rise in black-market kidney transplants.
Kidneys are in high demand
WHO says wealthy patients in developed nations are paying tens of thousands of dollars for a kidney to India-, China- and Pakistan-based gangs, who harvest them from desperate people for as little as a few hundred dollars.
Eastern Europe, the U.N.-based health organization says, is becoming fertile ground for black-market organs; recently the Salvation Army said it rescued a woman who had been brought to the United Kingdom to have her organs harvested.
The illicit kidney trade makes up 75 percent of the black-market organ trade, WHO says; experts say that is likely due to the diseases of affluence such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.
And, since there is such disparity between wealthy and poor countries, there isn't much chance the illicit trade will end anytime soon.
"The stakes are so big, the profit that can be made so huge, that the temptation is out there," Dr. Luc Noel, an official with WHO, told Britain's Guardian newspaper.
The processes for the orderly transplantation of organs are methodical and regulated for a reason: to ensure the health of the organs themselves and the patients who receive them. But the black market trade completely bypasses those protections.
WHO officials say they don't know how many of the more than 106,000 known organ transplants last year took place using black-market organs, but Noel thinks that figure could be as high as 10 percent.
Illegal organ trafficking has come to the U.S. as well
The United States, with its stringent organ transplant regulations, has not been completely immune from the vile business of illegal organ trafficking.
A New Jersey corruption probe in 2009 found that Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn "brokered the sale of black-market kidneys, buying organs from vulnerable people from Israel for $10,000 and selling them to desperate patients in the U.S. for as much as $160,000," the Associated Press reported.
"I am what you call a matchmaker," Rosenbaum said during a conversation that was being secretly taped by authorities. When asked how many organs he had trafficked, he answered, "Quite a lot."
While trafficking is on the rise, so too is the condemnation of it.
"The people who gain are the rich transplant patients who can afford to buy a kidney, the doctors and hospital administrators, and the middlemen, the traffickers," said Jim Feehally, professor of renal medicine at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, who said the key issue was one of exploitation.
Sources for this article include:
The Price of Organs Around the World
12 Years Later, Margaret Thatcher's Fear About China Realized
posted by Iisalrf
Wed, 05/30/2012
“…let us be in no doubt: the world is still a dangerous place…” ~ Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of England from 1970 to 1974 and former Honorary Fellow at the Hoover Institution gave a speech at the Hoover Institution on October 31st, 2000. The title of her speech was “A Time for Leadership”. Within the speech, Thatcher made startlingly accurate predictions about the rise of China in the 21st century.
The following quote is an excerpt from Thatcher’s speech: “(China) cannot afford to embrace democracy, and at the moment it does not need to. It is, after all, able to repress dissent without much difficulty. It has even perfected a system, combining enterprise, corruption and slave labour, that allows it to benefit from growing prosperity. And I would like here to pay tribute to Harry Wu who courageously exposed that wicked system.”
Today, Harry Wu and the Laogai Research Foundation continue to work to expose human rights abuses that resulted from China’s vast and brutal political system. LRF founded the Laogai Museum in 2008 in order to raise awareness, but even today, few people in the West understand the true nature of the Chinese Communist regime
As Thatcher noted, in China, enterprise and corruption often go hand in hand. The death penalty system in China and the subsequent removal of organs from prisoners serve as an example of the government’s corrupted enterprise efforts. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has gradually changed the mode of execution to lethal injection. In the past, China has had prisoners executed by firing squad. However, many human rights organizations believe that the main reason that lethal injection is carried out inside execution vans (an execution method unique to China) is so that prisoners’ organs can be quickly removed, and sold for profit.
Organ harvesting from prisoners has been a profitable enterprise for the corrupt PRC government since the 1980s. The PRC is second only to the U.S. in the number of organ transplants it carries out each year, even without any established organ donation program. It is one of the most abundant sources from which foreigners purchase organs. In 2012, The Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Public Heath of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) admitted that there was a lack of voluntary donations of organs, and that most of the organs that were harvested were from dead prisoners.
Another important mechanism of the Chinese government’s control that Thatcher mentioned was slave labor. This issue of slave labor is the focus of the Laogai Research Foundation and the Laogai Museum. They work to document and expose the “Laogai”, China’s vast and brutal system of forced-labor prison camps.
The Chinese government claims that the Laogai system was created to “remove antisocial elements from society and [reeducate] them” (Nathan, 2009)*. These “antisocial elements” are people who have been jailed because they were deemed as political enemies of the Chinese government. Both political prisoners and common criminals are forced into slave labor, doing heavy labor under hazardous conditions. They live in cramped quarters, with meager food and little medical care, and often face inhumane treatment consisting of mental and physical abuse, along with torture.
The Laogai system has also become a government enterprise. These prisoners are being exploited by the government for their labor. Prisons are under the administration of the government, thus the government is in effect, in control of the goods that the prisoners produce. These goods are then shipped to foreign countries, and local government and prison officers are the ones who benefit from the profit.
Under these continuing human rights abuses, China will have no chance of moving closer towards democracy. This is why we hope more individuals and organizations will acknowledge and condemn these actions of the Chinese government, as Margaret Thatcher did, in the hopes that another twelve years from now, China will have a more peaceful and democratic future.

Demand for kidneys worldwide sparks dramatic rise in illegal organ sales: report
Vital organ sells for as much as $200,000, or as little as $4,000
By Erik Ortiz / New York Daily News
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Demand for kidneys has increased so dramatically worldwide — particularly in impoverished countries — that world health officials worry a black market of organs for cash is flourishing.
An estimated 10,000 illegal organ operations take place every year — or more than one an hour, according to World Health Organization statistics.
Traffickers and the surgeons they conspire with are making out like bandits, reports state, earning a lucrative return with every operation.
“It’s ever growing, it’s a constant struggle,” said Dr. Luc Noel, a WHO official who monitors the transplant trade. “The stakes are so big, the profit that can be made so huge, that the temptation is out there.”
The Guardian reported Sunday that ill patients might pay as much as $200,000 for a kidney, travelling to countries such as China, India and Pakistan, where destitute donors are willing to have a kidney removed for as little as $5,000.
Noel said kidneys make up 75% of the illegal organ trade, booming because of growing diabetes and high blood pressure rates throughout the world, according to The Guardian.
The demand means some organ brokers aren’t shy about soliciting business: The Guardian found an advertisement on China’s popular Twitter-like website, Weibo, with the slogan, “Donate a kidney, buy the new iPad!” The broker was offering nearly $4,000 for an operation done within 10 days.
Meanwhile, sellers appear just as desperate. BBC News reported last year how a 17-year-old in China sold his kidney for $3,392 to buy an iPad 2 and a laptop.
Selling organs is illegal in China, and the government has tried to curb trafficking by instituting a voluntary donor program a few years ago, BBC News said.
The U.S. government made it illegal to sell or buy organs in 1984.
Last year, a Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to brokering three illegal kidney transplants worth a total $420,000. Levy Izhak Rosenbaum bought the organs from vulnerable people in Israel for $10,000, federal prosecutors said.
Rosenbaum, 60, could be sentenced Thursday in federal court and faces a five-year prison sentence per count and a fine of up to $250,000, according to reports.
He was the first person ever successfully convicted for illegal organ trafficking in the United States.
10 Truly Shocking Facts About Organ Trafficking
Online Nursing Programs
September 1, 2009
Its rare to find a person who hasn’t heard of the urban legend recounting some poor guy duped into a situation that leaves him awakening in a tub of ice with a message indicating he must call 911 as one of his kidneys has been taken. While that particular story is not true, sadly it is based on some very real and shocking truths about organ trafficking. The unbalanced system of too many people in need of organ transplants and high levels of poverty worldwide have contributed to create a situation that leaves many desperate people willing to do anything to sell or receive illegal organs. Read below to learn ten shocking facts about organ trafficking.
1. People seized against their will. According to a book by UN war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte, members of the Kosovo Liberation Army seized hundreds of people for involuntary organ harvesting. The organs were then flown to foreign clinics for transplantation. Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders have denied these allegations.
2. Organs harvested from children. An investigation was started in Mosambique after several local human rights groups and the Brazilian Mission in Nampula notified authorities that many children were missing vital organs, with several of the children believed to have died as a result of the harvesting. Most of the harvested organs are believed to be sent to nearby South Africa for both transplant and religious rites. There have also been reports of children being kidnapped and killed for their organs in South America.
3. Outrageous price of kidneys. 2003 estimates from the World Health Organization believe that the price of a trafficked kidney ranges from $700 in South Africa to over $30,000 in the US, with many other countries paying between $1,000 and $10,000 for a kidney. Recent news reports surrounding the corruption scandal in New Jersey indicate that a broker was asking $160,000 for a kidney, unknowingly to an undercover FBI agent.
4. Sellers denied money and care. Many of the black market kidneys sold worldwide are done so by poor and vulnerable people in desperate need of money. They are typically paid only a fraction of the amount for which they are sold, and sometimes are denied payment by unscrupulous brokers and receive poor or no medical care for their recovery. These donors are often left debilitated by the lack of care, often not fully recovering from the donation. Sometimes entire villages have given their kidneys, like Villivakkum in India that is sometimes referred to as "Kidneyvakkum."
5. Go in for an exam, leave without a kidney. In Egypt, one method of organ trafficking revolved around a hiring scheme. Young men were hired for a job and sent to a physician for an exam to ensure their good health. The young men would awaken in a hospital in pain and missing a kidney. Victims of this scheme have faced threats of violence when they have filed charges against those who perpetrated the crime.
6. Detained and executed for organs. China has been under scrutiny for several years for detaining members of dissident groups in China, executing them, and selling their organs. One American paid $100,000 for a liver to keep his mother alive only to discover that his transaction with a man in Shanghai was likely a part of this Chinese racket that included using a religious group to help facilitate the sale of the liver.
7. Only legal in one country. Despite the high numbers and rampant disregard for the law, organ trafficking is illegal in all but one country around the world. In Iran, organ sales are legal and closely monitored. The practice of legal organ transactions has eliminated the waiting list for those awaiting a kidney and has provided an increase in post-mortem organ donations, which are not remunerated in Iran.
8. American rabbis selling organs. Earlier this year, five prominent rabbis in New Jersey were arrested for money laundering and trafficking organs. The rabbis allegedly convinced Israelis to sell their kidneys for $10,000 and then charged up to $160,000 for the kidneys to those in need. The rabbis stated their money came from other sources, with one man claiming the money came from the "diamond business."
9. Babies auctioned for organs. Three Ukrainian women were arrested in Italy after auctioning off the unborn child of one of the women. The baby’s mother sold her unborn child for $350,000 euros (about $500,000 US dollars) to undercover officers who posed as drug runners looking for a baby for its organs. The officials believe the gang of women had performed the same transaction with other babies, sometimes selling them for illegal adoptions and sometimes for their organs.
10. Transplant tourism. Taking advantage of countries that have nebulous definitions of brain-death and often don’t enforce organ trafficking laws, those in need of organs will often travel to places such as Israel, India, and eastern European countries to purchase organs illegally. In South Africa, those arriving for transplant tourism often receive their transplants in hospitals that are more akin to luxury hotels than transplant centers.
Illegal Organ Trade Thrives on Poverty
By Daily Star Egypt staff, AFP
First Published: April 5, 2006
CAIRO: On the back of dire poverty, legal shortcomings and religious conservatism, a new mafia is prospering in Egypt and turning the country into the regional hub for the human organs trade, experts say.
There are no official statistics, but in a country where social inequality is high and a quarter of the population is believed to live under the poverty line, more and more destitute Egyptians are falling prey to the phenomenon. The large scars slicing the sides of many Egyptians in impoverished Cairo neighborhoods most probably testify to an illegal kidney sale to a rich fellow countryman or a Gulf Arab who could not find a donor.
"A Saudi patient can pay up to $80,000 split between the doctor, the donor and the go-between," says Hamdi Al-Sayyed, the head of Egypt's doctors' union.
"For example, a Jordanian or a Saudi who needs a transplant comes to Egypt accompanied by a relative as an official cover and then looks for an Egyptian or a Sudanese who is ready to sell his organ," he explains. While most donors are poor and hoping for a better life, not all are volunteers, with grisly accounts of forced organ 'donations' earning Egypt the sinister reputation of 'Brazil of the Middle East'.
Like millions of Egyptians, Abdelhamid AbdelHamid, Ahmed Ibrahim and Ashraf Zakaria were seeking better paid jobs in the Gulf, but their quest cost them a kidney. In a recent interview to the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm daily, they explained how they had been promised jobs but were requested to undergo a medical examination beforehand. The doctor "discovered" they were all suffering from a kidney infection requiring immediate surgery.
They woke up later in hospital with a missing kidney. The go-between had vanished but they feared to speak out.
A few days later, the health ministry caught a trafficker red-handed as he was selling a kidney to a Saudi citizen for $3,500. The Cairo hospital was supposed to be paid the same amount.
According to the main anti-narcotics body, a kilogram of bongo, the popular local form of marijuana, fetches around $100 on the drugs market. But dealers expose themselves to major risks to run their trade while organ trafficking can offer a safer and often more lucrative alternative.
"This mafia should be busted and the only way to do it is to pass legislation" regulating organ donation, Sayyed says. Only cornea transplants are covered by legislation, with all other operations falling in a gaping legal loophole. "Some doctors see it as an opportunity to make easy money," he explains.
Sayyed, who is also a lawmaker, has been pushing for parliament to adopt new legislation slapping heavy fines and prison sentences on people found guilty of involvement in illegal organs trafficking. His proposal also bans transplants between two people of different nationalities, in a bid to reduce the incentive for transplant tourism.
In the United States, selling organs is a criminal offense that can incur a fine of up $50,000 and five years in jail, while laws are also very tough in Europe. Yet in Egypt, the go-betweens cannot be prosecuted and the worst punishment facing corrupt doctors is to be stripped of their license by their peers.
Some of the unscrupulous doctors even sought the help of the judiciary to overturn bans by the doctors unions and won their cases.
"The situation is not tolerable. Not only does it feed a booming black market, it also leaves us with victims who are dumped after the transplant," says Haytham Al-Khayyat, a regional official with the World Health Organization. Sayyed and Khayyat accuse a group of influential Egyptian figures, including doctors, of blocking the bill by hiding behind ethical and religious principles.
While Egypt's current mufti, or senior Islamic jurist, supports a bill, his predecessor Sheikh Nasr Farid Wasel vocally opposed it. "We have the support of the official religious authorities, including Al-Azhar's Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi," who heads the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, Sayyed says, pointing out that the cleric himself volunteered as a donor in his will.
The Muslim Brothers, an Islamist movement which controls a fifth of parliament and is Egypt's main opposition force, also support introducing a bill. "Legislation is the only way to stem organs trafficking," spokesman Essam Al-Aryan says.