Increase in Illegal Body Parts Sales in Europe

The illegal sale of organs and other body parts has recently increased in Europe due to the economic crisis. Generally the black market for organs is most abundant in China, India, brazil, and the Philippines, yet recently the black market in body parts has expanded to countries in Europe which are going through economic turmoil such as Greece, Spain, Italy, and Balkan countries like Serbia.

The desperation of individuals who have lost their jobs and homes is leading to the sale of their kidneys, lungs, bone marrow, corneas, etc. With the global access provided by the Internet, individuals are able to quickly find buyers and middle men who can facilitate this type of transaction.

The global shortage of organs for transplantation makes it even easier to sell.

In Greece, a man was able to sell his kidney for $123,000 (New York Times 2012). The asking price for lungs worldwide can be as high as 250,000 pounds (New York Times 2012). With prices for organs and other body parts being so high, the choice is simple for those in poverty who want to feed their families.

Advertisements in these European countries are flooded with people willing to sell anything from kidneys to hair, sperm, and breast milk. The trade is even migrating to the United States through sites such as Craigslist.

Hundreds of people are so willing to sell pieces of themselves just to get enough money to survive.

Yet some of these donors never see a dime of what they are promised. Jonathon Ratel, an EU special prosecutor states “organized criminal groups are preying upon the vulnerable on both sides of the supply chain, people suffering from chronic poverty and desperate and wealthy patients who will do anything to survive” (New York Times 2012). After going through the painful process of donating an organ, the donors are at times left with nothing but their scars to remind them of the whole ordeal.

Donors are not the only ones being taken advantage of this trade. Buyers can be charged as much as 100,000 pounds for a kidney plus the cost for the operation and plane ticket.  After paying little or nothing for the organs they traffic, the traffickers take a huge profit.

The practice of organ trafficking will only continue to increase with the demand for transplantation. The only hope is that we as a society can somehow develop the technology to create organs. In the meantime, one can only wait for the economic crisis to turn around…

One Response to Increase in Illegal Body Parts Sales in Europe

  1. Wade Bailey says:

    Trafficking of human organs is horrifying if the donor is having them taken unwillingly. Otherwise, however, I feel desperate times can call for desperate measures, and sometimes those far down on the wait list don’t have the time to wait. If people are willing and able to safely donate organs, who’s to say they aren’t allowed to sell them to the highest bidder?

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