Desperation behind Pakistan's kidney trade
By Ayesha Akram
BBC News, Lahore
Muhammad Amjad, 34, takes out his rosary during a five-minute-break between shuttling customers around Lahore in his auto rickshaw.
These noisy machines, which can be heard from afar revving their four stroke engines like buzzing locusts, are usually decorated with brightly coloured motifs or poetic verses.
But the back of Amjad's rickshaw, which he has been driving for almost a decade, is completely covered by a white cloth banner with an advertisement sprawled across it in black and red painted letters.
The advertisement has been put there by Amjad who is eager to sell his kidney (blood group A+) to the highest bidder.
"I don't have any other options," he says. "My family can't help me. The government doesn't help me. What can I do?"
Amjad is one of many poverty-stricken Pakistanis driven to desperation by the recent escalation in the prices of food and oil, caused by the global food crisis and the coalition government's inability to provide sufficient state-subsidies.
It's just not possible to live on this amount
Almost one-third of the Pakistani population - about 40 million people - lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
Amjad's greatest problem is the loan of $4,200 he took out two years ago to take care of hospital expenses during his mother's illness.
Almost daily, Amjad's creditor knocks on his door and screams at him.
"He (my creditor) insults me all the time," he says. "I am tired of feeling helpless."
Desperate times are prompting many Pakistanis to adopt dangerous measures.
In three villages near Gujranwala, located about 75km (47 miles) from Lahore, one member from each of the 300 families living there has sold a kidney.
Atta Chohan, a resident of the area, says the stories of many kidney sellers are similar to Amjad's tale of woe.
"Often the kidney seller is a brick kiln worker who has taken a loan from a landlord and is unable to pay it off," he says.
"Sometimes men sell their kidneys to pay for the weddings of their daughters or hospital bills."
Besides Gujranwala, the kidney trade is also flourishing in southern Punjab especially in cities like Sargodha.
Here, more than half of the people living there have sold a kidney.
The reasons for the flourishing kidney trade are simple - the poor are reaching their breaking point according to economist Dr Qais Aslam.
"There are both short-term and long-term affects of the grinding poverty," he says.
"In the short term, criminalisation is increasing, people are selling their children and in some cases parts of themselves. The tragedy of Pakistan is that a majority of the population is being forced to scavenge themselves."
Amjad, who spends a good 10 to 12 hours a day ferrying customers around Lahore, says that despite the long hours he pulls at work he can only afford one meal a day for his family.
On good days, he makes about 1,000 rupees (about $14) to 1,200 rupees (about $16), out of which 200 rupees (approximately $3) is spent on petrol and another 200 rupees is paid to the owner of the rickshaw from whom he leases the vehicle.
"It's just not possible to live on this amount," he says, beads of sweat glistening on his forehead and worry etched on his face.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, popularly referred to as the Mother Teresa of Pakistan, says that stories like those of Amjad are proof that Pakistan is at the worst stage in its history.
"I fear that we will soon come to a stage where the poor will start dying of hunger," he says. "I have never seen such depressing conditions in Pakistan before."
But Amjad still considers himself to be fortunate. His friend recently committed suicide after he was unable to raise finances for his daughter's wedding and his mother's illness.
Many of Amjad's neighbours have started mobile-snatching or indulging in other petty crimes, he says.
"At least I'm earning my living honestly," he says.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/s ... 613235.stm
Organ Trafficking Discussed By Transplant Experts At ASN Renal Week 2008
10 Nov 2008
With the number of patients in need of organ transplants on the rise, an increasing number of patients are turning to unconventional sources for organs. Individuals are willing to donate their kidneys for financial incentive, particularly in developing countries where the poverty rate is high, resulting in numerous reports of human trafficking as a source of organs. This troubling issue was the topic of a session during the American Society of Nephrology's 41st Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In April 2008, The Transplantation Society and International Society of Nephrology convened an international summit of more than 150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from around the world to address unethical practices related to transplantation. Practices include organ trafficking (the illicit sale of human organs), transplant commercialism (when an organ is treated as a commodity), and transplant tourism (when organs given to patients from outside a country undermine the country's ability to provide organs for its own population). The Declaration of Istanbul was born from this meeting and sets forth recommendations to help eliminate organ trafficking. The Declaration advises countries to implement programs to prevent organ failure and provide organs to meet the transplant needs of its residents from donors within their own populations. Maximizing deceased organ donation is also recommended. ASN published The Declaration of Istanbul in the September 2008 print issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).
During the Renal Week session on this topic, members of The Declaration of Istanbul Steering Committee presented the background, rationale and recommendations from the summit. National and international leaders in the field will discuss the implications of the Declaration.
"We are concerned about this issue and feel it's important for Renal Week attendees to understand the severity of organ trafficking and the implications of the Declaration of Istanbul," says William E. Harmon, MD, of Children's Hospital in Boston, MA, and a co-moderator of the session.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.
The session, entitled "No to Organ Trafficking and Tourism: An In-Depth Discussion Regarding the Declaration of Istanbul," was presented as a Basic and Clinical Science Symposium on Saturday, November 8, 2008.
ASN understands the importance of this issue and is publishing an article in the November 2008 issue of the CJASN, which finds that people traveling to other countries to receive kidney transplants experience more severe post-transplant complications and a higher incidence of acute rejection and severe infections. The article, by Jagbir Gill, MD, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, CA, and his colleagues, entitled "Transplant Tourism in the United States: A Single Center Experience," is currently available online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/, and in the November 2008 print issue of CJASN.
Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/128711.php
First Trial against an US Surgeon for Killing a Patient to Harvest Organs Begins
By Jonquil Frankham
CALIFORNIA, November 6, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A San Francisco surgeon is undergoing trial for allegedly hastening the death of a terminally ill patient to harvest his vital organs.
The case against Hootan Roozrokh is believed to be the first of its kind brought against an American transplant surgeon.
Rosa Navarro, the patient’s mother, successfully filed suit against the hospital where the patient died and received $250,000 in compensation. Now the District Attorney’s office is pressing charges against the 34-year-old surgeon for “dependent adult abuse, administering a harmful substance and prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose.”
Roozrokh is also being charged with giving the 25-year old Ruben Navarro an antiseptic called Betadine, normally administered to an organ donor after death, via feeding tube to the stomach. Some commentators suggest the antiseptic was ultimately responsible for the patient’s death.
Roozrokh attempted to induce what is known as “cardiac death,” a new criteria for determining “death,” by delivering abnormally high doses of painkillers in order to retrieve vital organs from Ruben Navarro. “Cardiac death” is distinct from “brain death,” an older criterion for determining death that requires a cessation of all brain function prior to harvesting vital organs.
Toronto physician and LifeSiteNews medical adviser Dr. John Shea, MD, FRCP (C), says that in order to determine if a patient meets the “cardiac death” criteria the patient’s respirator is removed while the heart is still beating.
“If the heart stopped beating within an hour, the surgeon waited two to five minutes before taking out the organs. If the heart had not stopped beating within an hour, the patient would be returned to a hospital bed to die without any further treatment,” writes Dr. Shea.
On January 29, 2006, Ruben Navarro stopped breathing on his own, and was put on a respirator. On February 3 he still had not recovered consciousness, though his mother claimed she saw “signs of recovery.”
Medical staff then removed Navarro to the operating room and withdrew his respirator, claiming that hospital policy required them to “pull the plug” after five days on life support without patient recovery. Navarro continued to live, however, and Dr. Roozrokh, is reported to have then told nurses, “Let's just give him some more candy.” The patient was given high doses of morphine and Ativan to hasten death.
Navarro’s heart continued to beat, and after one hour his organs were no longer considered useable. He was removed from the operating room and died several hours later.
Besides the ambiguity surrounding the actual moment of death, Dr. Shea writes that harvesting organs at either the point of brain death or cardiac death creates a conflict of interest on the part of the attending physician and fosters a “utilitarian” approach to life and death.
According to California state law, in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest, transplant surgeons cannot direct the care of potential donors while the patient is still in treatment. In this case, however, sources have reported to police that, contrary to that requirement, Dr. Roozrokh was directing the administration of drugs to Mr. Navarro while in the operating room.
Writing about the “utilitarian rationale” behind the invention of the “brain death” criterion, Shea says that “it was no longer the interest of the dying to avoid being declared ‘dead’ prematurely, but the community’s interest in declaring a dying person dead as soon as possible.” Shea’s criticisms would also apply to the “cardiac death” criterion.
The utilitarian approach to life and death that is increasingly pervading the organ donation industry is obvious from an article published this October by two Oxford scholars, which suggests that, rather than ensuring that brain death and cardiac death are indeed true death, “we could abandon the dead donor rule," as LifeSiteNews reported.
“We could for example, allow organs to be taken from people who are not brain dead, but who have suffered such severe injury that they would be permanently unconscious, like Terry Schiavo, who would be allowed to die anyway by removal of their medical treatment," wrote Julian Savulescu, the Uehiro Chair of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, and neonatologist and Oxford graduate student Dominic Wilkinson
Bioethics International writes that the Roozrokh case “is likely to raise uneasiness among potential organ donors and could prompt doctors to shy away from a somewhat controversial practice of retrieving organs before a patient is brain dead.”
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Shock: Oxford Neonatologist Says Time Has Come to Consider “Mandatory Organ Donation”
Organ Transplant Doctor Investigated in Non-Heart Beating Donation Case
Mother Alleges Doctor Murdered Her Handicapped Son to Harvest His Organs
Private transplants to be banned
There are 8,000 people on the transplant register
The government says it will ban all private transplants of organs from dead donors in the UK.
The move comes after media reports of overseas patients paying to get onto the waiting list for organs donated by British people.
An independent report said organs were scarce and no one should be able to pay for transplants, to ensure NHS patients did not miss out.
Surgeons said it should reassure people organs went to those in most need.
Elisabeth Buggins, former chairwoman of the Organ Donation Taskforce, carried out an inquiry after allegations in a number of newspapers that organs from NHS donors were being given to patients from countries such as Greece and Italy.
It emerged that more than 700 transplants, mostly liver transplants, had been carried out on non-UK patients over the past decade.
In total, 631 of those transplants used organs from dead donors and, of those, 314 were from outside the EU.
It is not clear how many of those paid privately.
The inquiry found no evidence of wrongdoing in how organs were allocated to these patients, but concluded that in the interests of fairness no one should be able to pay for such operations.
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Elisabeth Buggins: "Private practice should be banned for organs donated after death"
It also says that rules should be tightened on which EU citizens are entitled to transplants on the NHS.
Under EU law, some patients can receive treatment in other countries, if approved by their healthcare system, which then foots the bill.
But the NHS needs to be more cautious when checking eligibility under these rules and it is likely that there are patients currently receiving treatment who should be refused, Mrs Buggins said.
She also recommended that the NHS works with other countries in the EU to develop their own transplant programmes.
And any reciprocal arrangements with transplant networks in other countries need to be reviewed, she advised.
Surgeons will still be able to carry out private work using organs from living donors, for example with kidney transplants and some liver transplants.
HAVE YOUR SAY The only reason people pay for transplants is because the NHS take so long you will probably be dead before you get it
James Pike, Aberdeen
Send us your comments Last year 3,500 transplants were carried out in the UK.
The Department of Health, which covers England, accepted the recommendations and said immediate steps would be taken to ban all private clinical practice involving solid organs donated after death.
Agreement for this still needs to be reached with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but is expected to come into force across the UK in October.
An implementation group will be set up to monitor transplant referrals from overseas, a spokeswoman added.
NHS transplant centres will receive clarification on which patients from abroad are eligible for treatment.
There has been ongoing work to increase public confidence in organ donation and, by March 2013, the government want to see donor rates rise from the current 800 to 1,400 donors per year.
Elisabeth Buggins said the report aimed to make more organs available for UK residents.
"While I found no evidence of wrongdoing in the way organs are allocated to patients, there is a perception that private payments may unfairly influence access to transplant, so they must be banned.
"Confidence in the transplant system should increase once money is removed from the equation, decisions are transparent and accountability clear; confidence we know is necessary if the number of organ donors is to rise to match the best in Europe.
Health Minister Ann Keen said they would implement the recommendations to ensure a UK system that is "fair and transparent".
She added: "The report highlights the complexity of European law in this area and we will take immediate action to provide guidance for the transplant community and reassure the public of the integrity of our transplant programme."
Lynda Hamlyn, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said more than 10,000 people currently need a transplant but due to a lack of organs about 1,000 people die every year before they can have one.
"In a situation where there are not enough organs to treat the citizens of the very country donating them, the priority must be to ensure a fair and open system of allocation and treatment and the necessary level of public reassurance that this is the case."
The British Transplantation Society welcomed the report, saying it would provide "further reassurance" that priority for a transplant was given to those in greatest need.
It added: "We welcome the proposal to clarify the arrangements for the treatment of non-UK patients and would encourage the Health Secretary to pursue this without delay."
Joyce Robins, co-director of Patient Concern, also hailed the proposal, arguing that any suggestion of private payment seriously undermined the entire transplant programme.
"Why should we sign up as organ donors if our organs can then be sold to the highest bidder? The law rightly prevents us from selling our own organs, so it is an outrage that hospitals can boost their income by doing so, while UK residents die for lack of organs."
The British Liver Trust said it was imperative to remove any perception that hospitals had a financial incentive to operate on non-UK residents.
"With not enough livers for all patients in the UK, this is a very emotive issue both for patients and also for the families of people who have donated such a precious gift," said its chief executive, Alison Rogers.
"The review's recommendations will do much to rebuild confidence in the system and help clinicians make the difficult life and death decisions about who should be offered a transplant.
China Launches Donation Pilot Scheme In Bid To Fight Transplant Organ Trading
27 Aug 2009
In a bid to fight trading in organs and speed up transplants, China's Ministry of Health and Red Cross Society have announced the launch of an organ donation system that will first operate as a pilot scheme in 10 cities and provinces.
As well as promoting the idea of organ donation, the pilot scheme will register donors and control distribution of organs to recipients, said the two agencies at a meeting in Shanghai on Wednesday.
Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu told the media:
"China should build as soon as possible a donation system in line with the national conditions and international ethics."
He said China needed to register more donors to ensure transplant quality, eliminate trading in organs and what he referred to as "organ tourism".
The cities and provinces that will be in the pilot scheme are the cities of Tianjin, Shanghai, Xiamen, Nanjing and Wuhan, and the provinces of Liaoning, Zhejiang, Shandong, Guangdong and Jiangxi.
According to government estimates, although every year there are 1.5 million Chinese patients who need organ transplants, only 10,000 operations take place because of the severe shortage of organ donors.
Up to last year, China had carried out over 86,500 kidney transplants, over 14,500 liver transplants, nearly 900 heart and lung transplants, and more than 220 transplants of other organs. 164 medical institutions on the Chinese mainland have licences to carry out organ transplants.
The Chinese authorities are also investigating reports that some institutions were illegally performing organ transplants for foreigners. "Transplant tourism" was banned in China in 2007, when the government brought in legislation that also outlawed organ trading and trafficking.
Last Sunday in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, there was a seminar of China's leading transplant experts organized by the Ministry of Health and a subsidiary of the Novartis company, where it was revealed that there have only been 130 organ transplants from deceased donors in China since the first case in 2003.
This compares with over 10,000 transplant operations that take place every year, where the majority of organs come from executed prisoners.
Chen Zhonghua, the Chinese Medical Association's deputy director for transplanting told the Global Times that organ trafficking was the biggest obstacle facing China's organ-transplant practice.
He said that the huge shortage of donors has "created a significant black market for organs, which in turn has ruined public faith and willingness to donate organs."
Chen said there were already signs of a "backlash", citing that last year saw a drop in donations from 41 the year before to 36.
He said that executed prisoners, who either gave written consent themselves or it was obtained from their families, will continue to be the main source of organs.
But this won't be enough, not only because of the increasing demand but also because there has been a dramatic drop in the number of executions.
Xinhua, the government's official press agency, reported this week that an organ transplant dealer who called himself Li Zhe, said that he keeps lists of contacts for kidney transplants and trading usually starts as soon as there is a match. He takes "care of the procedures" and the receivers bear all the cost, he said.
Li told the Global Times by telephone that:
"A single case costs as much as 200,000 yuan [nearly 30,000 US dollars or 18,500 British pounds] for a patient who needs a kidney transplant."
Medical checkups for potential donors cost around 10,000 yuan, he added, but did not reveal how much of the money he receives.
Li said that dealers give patients fake identity documents to show that donors and receivers are related, and that dealers bribe not only officials to get the relevant fake papers but also doctors to carry out the operations.
The going rate to pay a doctor to do an illegal transplant operation in Beijing is about 30,000 yuan (about 4,500 US dollars), said Li.
China's Health Ministry said earlier this month it has launched an overhaul of illegal organ transplants at the 164 medical institutions licensed to carry out such surgery.
When the review is completed, the ministry will then:
"Let the people know and decide which hospital to go to for quality and ethical transplants."
Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu, said that they will also publicize the waiting list.
Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD
Israel organs claim row deepens
The Swedish article said Israeli soldiers had taken organs from dead prisoners
A Palestinian minister and an Israeli Arab member of parliament have stoked a row over allegations that Israel has taken organs from dead Palestinians.
Issa Qaraqae said Israel was hiding the bodies of dead Palestinian prisoners to disguise evidence of organ trafficking.
Israeli Arab MP Mohammed Barakeh said he would believe the organ-removal claims unless Israel disproved them.
Israel has angrily denied the allegations, first made in a Swedish newspaper, calling them "outrageous".
Mr Qaraqae said Israel was "hiding the bodies of Palestinian martyrs to remove the proof of their crimes, including organ trafficking".
He was speaking at a meeting in the West Bank city of Nablus to demand the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army.
At the same meeting, Mr Barakeh, chairman of the Hadash party in the Israeli Knesset, said it was the right of Palestinians to ask "what Israel's reasons are for keeping the bodies of martyrs".
"Have the bodies been mutilated? My answer is yes, barring proof to the contrary. Have their organs been stolen? My answer is yes, barring proof to the contrary," he said.
Mr Barakeh later told Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper: "Seeing as there is no worse way to punish a man and his family than with his death, the question is why Israel continues to hold the bodies."
Mr Netanyahu said the claims were reminiscent of medieval 'blood libels'
"The burden of proof falls on Israel, and as long as it refuses to say what the status of the bodies is or return them, it is hiding something awful," he said.
The organ harvesting story was first published in August in Aftonbladet, Sweden's biggest-selling daily newspaper.
It claimed that in incidents dating back as far as 1992, Israeli soldiers snatched Palestinian youths and returned their dismembered bodies a few days later.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the Swedish government to condemn the article, saying the accusations were "outrageous".
Mr Netanyahu compared the claims to medieval "blood libels", which alleged that Jews used the blood of Christian babies during religious ceremonies.
But Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt has said he would not condemn the article because freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution.
Prof Yehuda Hiss: The Missing Link In Palestinian Organ Theft?
By Jonathan Cook
The hyperventilating by Israel’s leaders over a story published in a Swedish newspaper last month suggesting that the Israeli army assisted in organ theft from Palestinians has distracted attention from the disturbing allegations made by Palestinian families that were the basis of the article’s central claim.
Israel admits organ harvesting
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/bre ... king7.html
Israel has admitted that in the 1990s, its forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without permission of their families.
The issue emerged with publication of an interview with the then-head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr Jehuda Hiss.
The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic, who released it because of a huge controversy last summer over an allegation by a Swedish newspaper that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs. Israel hotly denied the charge.
Parts of the interview were broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 TV over the weekend. In it, Dr Hiss said, "We started to harvest corneas ... Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family."
The Channel 2 report said that in the 1990s, forensic specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.
In a response to the TV report, the Israeli military confirmed that the practice took place. "This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer," the military said in a statement quoted by Channel 2.
In the interview, Dr Hiss described how his doctors would mask the removal of corneas from bodies. "We'd glue the eyelid shut," he said. "We wouldn't take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids."
Many of the details in the interview first came to light in 2004, when Dr Hiss was dismissed as head of the forensic institute because of irregularities over use of organs there. Israel's attorney general dropped criminal charges against him, and Dr Hiss still works as chief pathologist at the institute. He had no comment on the TV report.
Hiss became director of the institute in 1988. He said in the interview that the practice of harvesting organs without permission began in the "early 1990s." However, he also said that military surgeons removed a thin layer of skin from bodies as early as 1987 to treat burn victims. Dr Hiss said he believed that was done with family consent. The harvesting ended in 2000, he said.
Complaints against the institute, where autopsies of dead bodies are performed, at the time of Hiss' dismissal came from relatives of Israeli soldiers and civilians as well as Palestinians. The bodies belonged to people who died from various causes, including diseases, accidents and Israeli-Palestinian violence, but there has been no evidence to back up the claim in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians for their organs. Angry Israeli officials called the report "anti-Semitic."
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, said she decided to make the interview public in the wake of the Aftonbladet controversy, which raised diplomatic tensions between Israel and Sweden and prompted Sweden's foreign minister to call off a visit to the Jewish state.
Ms Scheper-Hughes said that while Palestinians were "by a long shot" not the only ones affected by the practice in the 1990s, she felt the interview must be made public now because "the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, (is) something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered."
While insisting that all organ harvesting was done with permission, Israel's Health Ministry told Channel 2, "The guidelines at that time were not clear." It added, "For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law."
End of the road for Kosovo organ claims?
By Nick Thorpe BBC News, Pristina, Belgrade and Tirana The "Yellow House" in Albania where organs were alleged to have been removed Blood was found on the floor of the "yellow house"
For years rumours have circulated about Serbs abducted and killed for their organs in the months following the Kosovo war.
Three parallel international investigations, by war crimes investigators from Serbia, the European Union, and the Council of Europe, have failed to uncover any evidence that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) trafficked the organs of captives, according to sources close to each investigation.
Dozens of predominantly Serb captives were allegedly taken to a "yellow house" near Burrel in central Albania from June 1999 to May 2000, where their organs were systematically removed and sold, according to accounts presented by Carla del Ponte, former war crimes prosecutor at The Hague Tribunal in her 2008 autobiography.
But the failure to find either the original sources, or any new evidence since 2004, may mean that the story was unfounded.
The Council of Europe report, due to be published next month by investigator Dick Marty, is expected to focus rather on political demands to the governments involved, rather than to uncover new facts.
You would just need a plenteous supply of donors, usefully cross indexed against possible demand. Preferably fresh and on the hoof.BlackRiverFalls said:But is it actually plausible? I'd thought you needed a really good match for organ donation, though i guess if you tested enough people and kept a database of them it could well up your odds substancially.
And who is recieving the organs?
Kosovo medics accused of trafficking kidneys
Surgeons performing an operation (generic image)
The alleged operations took place in 2008
Continue reading the main story
* End of the road for Kosovo organ claims?
* Country profile: Serbia
EU prosecutors have accused seven people, including doctors and a health official, of trafficking kidneys through a clinic in Kosovo.
International trafficking allegedly took place in 2008 at the Medicus clinic in the capital, Pristina.
Kidney "donors" and recipients were of different nationalities, prosecutors said in a press release.
The prosecutors form part of the EU's law and order mission, Eulex, in the breakaway Serbian province.
Interpol arrest warrants in connection with the case have also been issued for a Turkish and an Israeli national.
Names and other details of the case are due to be made public at the end of this month.
The Associated Press news agency released some details this week, saying it had seen a copy of the indictment.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority declared the province to be an independent state in 2008, a decision recognised by many Western states but still resisted by Serbia and its allies.
'Led by a surgeon'
The indictment was filed at Pristina's district court last month and follows an investigation launched in 2008 by Kosovan and UN police officers.
The suspects are accused of trafficking in human organs, organised crime, unlawful exercise of medical activities and abusing official authority.
One is described as a "person that previously worked at a senior level in the Ministry of Health".
EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel is quoted by AP as saying in the indictment that an "organised criminal group" had trafficked persons into Kosovo for the purpose of removing "human organs for transplant to other persons".
Some 20 foreign nationals "were recruited with false promises of payments" in 2008.
"These victims were recruited in other countries, then transported and received at Pristina Airport through the false promise of payments for the removal of their kidneys," Mr Ratel reportedly says.
Donors were promised up to 14,500 euros (£12,300, $19,900) while recipients were required to pay between 80,000 and 100,000 euros.
Donors came from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey and lived in "extreme poverty or acute financial distress".
A Kosovan surgeon is accused of leading the criminal group.
He allegedly recruited a Turkish doctor to help him perform the organ transplants at Medicus, a private clinic, which has since closed down.
An Israeli citizen was allegedly involved in "identifying, recruiting and transporting victims" and "ensuring the delivery of cash payments by electronic bank transfer" prior to surgery.
Kosovo has been haunted by another alleged case of organ-trafficking dating back to the war in 1999.
In that case, which has never been proven, Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) militants allegedly trafficked the organs of Serb captives they later killed.
Kosovo rejects PM Hashim Thaci organ trafficking claims
Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci (file pic) Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci is named 27 times in the highly critical report
* Kosovo: Did atrocities continue?
* Kosovo medics 'trafficked organs'
* End of the road for Kosovo organ claims?
The Kosovo government has reacted angrily to a draft report alleging that serving leaders are responsible for crimes including organ trafficking.
The Council of Europe report names Hashim Thaci - prime minister and wartime political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - 27 times.
The human rights body's inquiry reinforces several aspects of a 2009 BBC report into similar allegations.
Kosovo's authorities have rejected the claims as "baseless and defamatory".
The draft report, which is due to be published on Thursday, is the result of a two-year investigation by the special rapporteur of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty.
Allegations of organ trafficking against the KLA were first published by the former prosecutor of the Hague International War Crimes Tribunal, Carla del Ponte, in 2008.
The BBC's report presented evidence of the cross-border transfer of both Serb and Albanian prisoners of the KLA from Kosovo to Albania.
Nick Thorpe, who was involved in the BBC investigation, says that Mr Marty's report identifies individuals and joins the dots between known detention facilities used by the KLA during and after the war in the late 1990s.
Continue reading the main story
Michael Montgomery Center for Investigative Reporting
The Council of Europe's draft report includes people who were in the inner circle in this alleged organ trafficking ring; sources who actually witnesses to these macabre operations.
From personal experience it is extraordinarily difficult to get to the right people.
One thing that the report says is that, in their experience, penetrating the Albanian mafia is more difficult than penetrating the Sicilian mafia, the Cosa Nostra. It's a very violent, closed society and very difficult to obtain information.
If any of these allegations are true you can imagine how tightly some people would try to protect these secrets.
Mr Marty's report says that when the United Nations came to Kosovo they decided to do business with the KLA and did not aggressively pursue war crimes investigations against senior KLA officials.
Since the EU has come in, it has levelled indictments against some KLA operatives and it is not impossible that they might assist in some kind of investigation into these allegations.
The Drenica group within the KLA, which was led by Mr Thaci, is accused of involvement in organised crime, including drug trafficking and the trafficking of human organs.
Leaders of the group are also said to bear "the greatest responsibility" for running the "KLA's ad hoc network of detention facilities" inside Albania as well as determining the fate of prisoners.
Evidence is also presented of organised crime activities continuing up to the present day.
Mr Marty's report argues that the abuses were sufficiently widespread to constitute a pattern in neighbouring Albania as well as in Kosovo.
It suggests that at least six detention centres operated in Albania and it adds that prisoners continued to be detained after the end of the 1999 Kosovo conflict.
In addition, it says, a "state-of-the-art" reception centre was used for the removal of captives' kidneys as part of the organised crime of organ trafficking. Mr Marty's sources allege the organs were shipped out to private overseas clinics.
The report also appears to corroborate allegations of crimes, mainly against ethnic Serbs, at a farmhouse in the Albanian village of Rripe known as the "Yellow House".
The Yellow House allegations were contained in a joint investigation by the BBC and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
The draft Council of Europe report says a small number of deaths occurred there and goes on to claim that the house was used as a transit point where victims were processed according to their physical condition.
The end point, the report alleges, was at Fushe-Kruje where victims were killed and their organs removed. The report notes its proximity to Albania's main airport near Tirana.
Mr Marty's draft report is particularly critical of the UN War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague which, he says, carried out an exploratory mission to the Yellow House site in Rripe.
Continue reading the main story
To us it's clear that someone wants to embarrass Prime Minister Hashim Thaci after the landslide victory in last Sunday's parliamentary elections”
End Quote Memli Krasniqi Kosovo government spokesman
While pointing out that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction over Albania, the report complains that its initial investigation into organ trafficking was dropped and evidence taken from the Yellow House destroyed.
In its first reaction, the Kosovo government warned of legal and political steps against what it described as "slanders".
Spokesman Memli Krasniqi said the allegations had been investigated several times by local and international prosecutors and the claims were found to be unsubstantiated.
"To us it's clear that someone wants to embarrass Prime Minister Hashim Thaci after the landslide victory in last Sunday's parliamentary elections," he said.
Mr Thaci, whose political party won Sunday's parliamentary elections in Kosovo, said in a 2009 interview that certain individuals might have abused the uniform of the Kosovo Liberation Army but, if so, these were isolated incidents.
After a meeting in Moscow, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic cast doubt on the Kosovo prime minister's political future in light of the Council of Europe's draft report.
The report is due to be presented to the legal and human rights committee of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Thursday.
Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring, Council of Europe reports
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 15.17 GMT on Tuesday 14 December 2010. A version appeared on p1 of the Main section section of the Guardian on Wednesday 15 December 2010. It was last modified at 13.35 GMT on Wednesday 15 December 2010.
Kosovo's prime minister is the head of a "mafia-like" Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe, according to a Council of Europe inquiry report on organised crime.
Hashim Thaçi is identified as the boss of a network that began operating criminal rackets in the runup to the 1998-99 Kosovo war, and has held powerful sway over the country's government since.
The report of the two-year inquiry, which cites FBI and other intelligence sources, has been obtained by the Guardian. It names Thaçi as having over the last decade exerted "violent control" over the heroin trade. Figures from Thaçi's inner circle are also accused of taking captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market.
Legal proceedings began in a Pristina district court today into a case of alleged organ trafficking discovered by police in 2008. That case – in which organs are said to have been taken from impoverished victims at a clinic known as Medicus – is said by the report to be linked to Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) organ harvesting in 2000. It comes at a crucial period for Kosovo, which on Sunday held its first elections since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. Thaçi claimed victory in the election and has been seeking to form a coalition with opposition parties.
Dick Marty, the human rights investigator behind the inquiry, will present his report to European diplomats from all 47 member states at a meeting in Paris on Thursday. His report suggests Thaçi's links with organised crime date back more than a decade, when those loyal to his Drenica group came to dominate the KLA, and seized control of "most of the illicit criminal enterprises" in which Kosovans were involved south of the border, in Albania.
During the Kosovo conflict Slobodan Miloševic's troops responded to attacks by the KLA by orchestrating a horrific campaign against ethnic Albanians in the territory. As many as 10,000 are estimated to have died at the hands of Serbian troops.
While deploring Serb atrocities, Marty said the international community chose to ignore suspected war crimes by the KLA, "placing a premium instead on achieving some degree of short-term stability". He concludes that during the Kosovo war and for almost a year after, Thaçi and four other members of the Drenica group named in the report carried out "assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations". This same hardline KLA faction has held considerable power in Kosovo's government over the last decade, with the support of western powers keen to ensure stability in the fledgling state.
The report paints a picture in which ex-KLA commanders have played a crucial role in the region's criminal activity. It says: "In confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaçi and other members of his Drenica group as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics."
Marty says: "Thaçi and these other Drenica group members are consistently named as 'key players' in intelligence reports on Kosovo's mafia-like structures of organised crime. I have examined these diverse, voluminous reports with consternation and a sense of moral outrage."
His inquiry was commissioned after the former chief prosecutor for war crimes at the Hague, Carla Del Ponte, said she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials. Her most shocking claim, which she said required further investigation, was that the KLA smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.
The report, which states that it is not a criminal investigation and unable to pronounce judgments of guilt or innocence, gives some credence to Del Ponte's claims.
It finds the KLA did hold mostly Serb captives in a secret network of six detention facilities in northern Albania, and that Thaçi's Drenica group "bear the greatest responsibility" for prisons and the fate of those held in them.
They include a "handful" of prisoners said to have been transferred to a makeshift prison just north of Tirana, where they were killed for their kidneys.
The report states: "As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the 'safe house' individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.''
The same Kosovan and foreign individuals involved in the macabre killings are linked to the Medicus case, the report finds.
Marty is critical of the western powers which have provided a supervisory role in Kosovo's emergence as a state, for failing to hold senior figures, including Thaçi, to account. His report criticises "faltering political will on the part of the international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA".
It concludes: "The signs of collusion between the criminal class and the highest political and institutional office holders are too numerous and too serious to be ignored.
"It is a fundamental right of Kosovo's citizens to know the truth, the whole truth, and also an indispensable condition for reconciliation between the communities and the country's prosperous future."
If as expected the report is formally adopted by the committee this week, the findings will go before the parliamentary assembly next year.
The Kosovo government tonight dismissed the allegations, claiming they were the produce of "despicable and bizarre actions by people with no moral credibility".
"Today, the Guardian published an article that referred to a report from a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, which follows up on past reports published over the last 12 years aiming at maligning the war record of the Kosovo Liberation Army and its leaders," it said in a statement.
"The allegations have been investigated several times by local and international judiciary, and in each case, it was concluded that such statements have were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
"It is clear that someone wants to place obstacles in the way of prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, after the general election, in which the people of Kosovo placed their clear and significant trust in him to deliver the development programme and governance of our country.
"Such despicable and bizarre actions by people with no moral credibility, serve the ends of only those specific circles that do not wish well to Kosovo and its people."
• This article was amended on 15 December 2010. The original dated the Kosovo conflict to 1999 alone. This has been clarified.
EU studies Kosovo 'organ traffic' allegations
Eulex officer (file pic) Eulex works with Kosovo Albanian officials to fight crime and corruption
* Report reignites Kosovo organ trafficking claim
* Kosovo PM accused of human rights abuses
* Kosovo denies organ traffic claim
The EU mission in Kosovo has begun investigating allegations that Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rebels engaged in organ trafficking.
"Eulex prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation," the EU rule of law mission (Eulex) said.
On Tuesday the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, approved a report by its investigator, Dick Marty.
Organs were taken from prisoners killed by the KLA after the 1999 war against Serb forces, Mr Marty alleged.
He accused a KLA faction led by Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of involvement in organised crime, including organ trafficking.
Mr Thaci strongly denies the allegations.
Eulex said it took the allegations "very seriously" and was ready to "handle the judicial follow-up".
"Eulex calls on all relevant organisations and individuals, including Dick Marty, to present what evidence they have...
Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci (5 Dec 2010) Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has strongly denied the allegations
"We understand concerns about witness protection in the region but we have full confidence in our own witness protection unit," the statement said.
The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly called for international and Albanian investigations into crimes committed in the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict, including "numerous indications" that organs were removed from the bodies of prisoners held by the KLA on Albanian territory.
Swiss senator Dick Marty's report, published last month, claims witnesses were silenced and paid off by members of the Drenica Group, a faction within the KLA, whose members allegedly engaged in organ trafficking, as well as heroin smuggling and assassinations.
The group's leader is named as Mr Thaci, then the KLA's political chief.
Mr Marty said he had never claimed Mr Thaci was directly involved in organ-trafficking, but added that "it [was] hard to believe that he never heard anything being said".
Politician angers MEPs over Kosovo organ harvesting claim
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/wor ... 85150.html
CONOR POPE in Strasbourg
Fri, Mar 11, 2011
A BAD-TEMPERED meeting of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee focusing on the alleged harvesting of organs of Serbian prisoners by the Kosovan army during the conflict there in 1999 took place in Strasbourg yesterday.
Last December, Swiss politician Dick Marty presented a report to the Council of Europe which suggested there was substance to long-standing allegations of trafficking in the organs of 300 Serbian prisoners by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
His report links the Kosovan prime minister and former KLA political leader Hashim Thaçi to the illegal harvesting.
The reports first surfaced in 2002 but senior sources in Eulex, the EU mission in Kosovo, believe they are without foundation and say an investigation it carried out 2004 found nothing to suggest harvesting had ever taken place.
Yesterday, Mr Marty gave a presentation to the parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
Journalists were excluded from the meeting, but afterwards MEPs said Mr Marty had failed to provide any evidence concerning the allegations and claimed he had accused MEPs who were critical of his report of bias.
“The problem was that he presented his report in a sharp way and then we put questions to him in a similarly sharp way and he started to attack us,” German MEP Bernd Posselt told The Irish Times. “He has to give answers and not to attack the people who put questions to him.”
Mr Posselt dismissed the report as “not serious”. He said he wanted to “hear serious fact and not polemic and all we got today was polemic and opinions”.
German MEP Doris Pack said, “His reaction was very offensive.” She said that “at least 90 per cent” of MEPs who had questioned Mr Marty had been very critical of the report. “At the end he was so furious he attacked all of us and accused us of being partial because we know these people [in the Kosovan government] . . . Of course I know these people. I have been working in the region for 24 years.” She said he had not provided the names of witnesses, victims or the organs which were allegedly harvested.
When approached by this newspaper, Mr Marty declined to comment on the contents of the report or the outcome of the hearing. It is understood he told the hearing a witness protection programme was needed in Kosovo before he could provide more details on witnesses to the alleged trafficking as their lives were in danger.
China: Teenager 'sells kidney for iPad'
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Beijing
The iPad 2 went on sale in China last month
Foxconn plant blast kills three
A teenager in China has sold one of his kidneys in order to buy an iPad 2, Chinese media report.
The 17-year-old, identified only as Little Zheng, told a local TV station he had arranged the sale of the kidney over the internet.
The story only came to light after the teenager's mother became suspicious.
The case highlights China's black market in organ trafficking. A scarcity of organ donors has led to a flourishing trade.
Deep red scar
It all started when the high school student saw an online advert offering money to organ donors.
Illegal agents organised a trip to the hospital and paid him $3,392 (£2,077) after the operation.
With the cash the student bought an iPad 2, as well as a laptop.
When his mother noticed the computers and the deep red scar on his body, which was caused by the surgery, Little Zheng confessed.
In 2007, Chinese authorities banned organ trafficking and have introduced a voluntary donor scheme to try to combat the trade.
Kidney donor payments 'would save lives'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-t ... l-14379215
Click to play
The British Medical Association said organ donation should be "altruistic"
Drivers get organ donor 'nudge'
Organ donor register passes 18m
'Sell organs to save lives'
Hard-up students should be allowed to pay off their debts by selling a kidney, an academic has argued.
Sue Rabbitt Roff, a researcher at Dundee University, said it was time to "explore" kidney donors being paid as an "incentive".
Mrs Roff believes the payment should be set at about £28,000 - equivalent to the UK average annual income.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said it would not support cash being paid for organs.
It is currently illegal to pay for organs for transplantation under the Human Tissue Act. The act also makes it an offence to attempt to buy or sell organs for transplant.
In an article for bmj.com, Mrs Roff said a regulated payment system run under "strict rules" would not resemble the illegal markets that exist in many countries.
"It would be an incentive across most income levels for those who wanted to do a kind deed and make enough money to, for instance, pay off university loans," she said.
"We have recently moved to allowing donation of strangers' live kidneys, in which an individual decides to give to someone whom they will never meet and with whom they have no emotional or genetic relationship.
Continue reading the main story
Introducing payment could lead to donors feeling compelled to take these risks, contrary to their better judgement, because of their financial situation”
Dr Tony Calland
British Medical Association
"That is a huge shift from the approach of last century, when it was largely assumed that genetically related members of families would want to donate among themselves."
Three people a day die on the UK kidney transplant list - but the number of donations is not keeping pace with the demand for the organs, according to Mrs Roff.
And the need for kidneys is only likely to rise with the increase in conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, she said.
But Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the BMA's medical ethics committee, rejected the call for donor payments.
He said: "Organ donation should be altruistic and based on clinical need. Living kidney donation carries a small but significant health risk.
"Introducing payment could lead to donors feeling compelled to take these risks, contrary to their better judgement, because of their financial situation."
The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) said the organisation would "continue to explore" the issues around living donation that had the potential to increase the number of organ transplants.
But a spokeswoman added: "As relationships between potential donors and recipients become increasingly varied, the HTA must continue to ensure that living organ donation is something people enter into freely and without financial reward."
Marty testimony for organ-trafficking trial
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/wor ... 35650.html
Fri, Apr 06, 2012
A trial of alleged organ-traffickers in Kosovo will hear evidence from a Swiss human rights investigator who has accused the state’s prime minister of involvement in organ trading in the late 1990s.
Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty will testify in the trial of seven people accused of illegally transplanting organs at a clinic in Kosovo in 2008, the year it declared independence from Serbia. In a separate report, Mr Marty claimed to have evidence that Kosovan prime minister Hashim Thaci and other senior rebels were involved with mafia-like groups that killed Serb prisoners and removed their organs for sale in 1998-99.
Mr Thaci, in Washington yesterday to meet US vice-president Joe Biden, denies the claims and says no link has been established between Mr Marty’s allegations and the case being tried by a panel of mostly EU judges in Kosovo.
Defence lawyers oppose Mr Marty’s involvement, but Polish presiding judge Arkadiusz Sedek said they should hear “what sort of information he has and what the sources of this information are”.
China arrests after kidney sold for iPad
iPads are as sought-after in China as in many other countries
China to end prison organ donors
China boy 'sells kidney for iPad'
Five people have been arrested in southern China after a teenager sold his kidney so he could buy an iPhone and iPad, state media have reported.
Those detained include the surgeon who removed the kidney from the boy in April last year.
State-run Xinhua news agency says the group received around $35,000 (£22,000) for the transplant.
The student is said to be suffering renal failure, according to prosecutors in Hunan province quoted by Xinhua.
Only identified by his surname Wang, he is said to have received about $3,000 for his kidney.
The 17-year-old was reportedly recruited for the illegal trade through an online chatroom.
The case was discovered when his mother noticed the new gadgets; when asked where he got the money, he admitted selling a kidney.
The group behind the operation have been charged with causing intentional injury and illegal organ trading.
While Apple iPhones and iPads are very popular in China, they are priced beyond the reach of many urban workers.
And there is a constant shortage of organ donors.
Official figures from the health ministry show that about 1.5 million people need transplants, but only 10,000 are performed annually.
Executed prisoners have been often used as a source of organs, but last month China vowed to phase this out over the next five years.
Key suspect in Kosovo organ case 'arrested in Israel'
Interpol issued an alert for Moshe Harel
Kosovo organ case surgeon bailed
Regions and territories: Kosovo
A key suspect in an organ-trafficking case in Kosovo has been arrested in Israel, European Union prosecutors say.
Israeli police have not confirmed the arrest or what alleged offence they are investigating.
EU prosecutors suspect Moshe Harel of masterminding an illegal trade organ trade involving a clinic in the Kosovan capital, Pristina.
His arrest was announced to a court in Kosovo on Thursday, an EU press officer in Pristina told the BBC News website.
Israeli newspapers have recently reported the arrest of 10 people over an international organ-trafficking network, but it is unclear if Mr Harel is among them.
But he is known to be among nine people indicted in the Kosovo case, which relates to organ transplants carried out in 2008.
Prosecutor Jonathan Ratel, of the EU law and justice mission (Eulex), said Mr Harel "and several other suspects" had been arrested in Israel "in connection with an investigation in Israel".
The Eulex prosecutor is now "in close co-operation with the authorities in Israel" with regard to an international arrest alert issued by Interpol for Mr Harel at the request of the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo, Eulex press officer Bardha Azari told the BBC.
The owner of the Kosovo clinic at the centre of the allegations, Medicus, has denied any wrongdoing, and insists the charges against him and others are "politically motivated".
Israeli jailed for illegal US kidney transplants
Rosenbaum was arrested during a huge operation into corruption in many walks of life
An Israeli convicted of arranging US kidney transplants for profit has been given a two-and-a-half-year sentence.
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum admitted brokering kidney transplants for profit, becoming the first person convicted over illegal organ sales in the US, prosecutors say.
He was alleged to have charged between $120,000 (£77,400) and $160,000 to arrange kidneys for three people.
He was caught trying to arrange fourth operation when the FBI launched a sting operation in 2009.
New Jersey prosecutors said Rosenbaum, an Israeli living in Brooklyn, used newspaper adverts in his homeland to find donors willing to give up a kidney in return for cash.
He was alleged to have paid as little as $10,000 to secure a donor organ.
He then helped set up blood test and services to ensure a proper match was arranged for those in need of a transplant in the US.
'The cause was good'
Although at least one recipient of a kidney spoke up in defence during Rosenbaum's sentencing hearing, one other said they had felt exploited.
"It was wrong, but I thought the cause was good," Rosenbaum, 61, told the court.
"I can assure this court I will never do this again."
Continue reading the main story
There are no victims here. The donors are happy and the recipients are happy”
Prosecutor Paul Fishman said Rosenbaum was motivated by profit, not by a desire to heal the sick.
"A black market where the moneyed sick can buy replacement parts from the less fortunate is not only grim, it apportions lifesaving treatments unfairly, insults donor dignity, and violates the law," he said in a statement.
"Although Rosenbaum painted himself as a benevolent kidney matchmaker, the criminal profits went right into his pocket," Mr Fishman added.
But those who spoke in support of Rosenbaum described him as a devout Orthodox Jew who was dedicated to helping people.
"There are no victims here," Rachel Warshower, who travelled from Brooklyn to support Rosenbaum, told the Associated Press.
"The donors are happy and the recipients are happy. Izhak Rosenbaum is not the monster the media has made him out to be."
Dramatic increase in worldwide illegal organ trade
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jul20 ... -j14.shtml
By Sven Heymann
14 July 2012
Since the global financial crash in 2008, the worldwide illegal organ trade has increased dramatically. Until recently, those looking to sell parts of their bodies generally came from the so-called developing countries; now, the phenomenon can be found in large parts of Europe.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2010 there were approximately 107,000 donated organs worldwide— both legal and illegal. Kidneys made up about two thirds of all transplanted organs. According to a report in the Guardian, WHO doctor Luc Noel expects that about 10 percent of all transplants are performed illegally. On the other hand, the California human rights organisation Organ Watch talks of 15,000-20,000 illegal kidney transplants per year.
But the transplants carried out represent only a fraction of the actual need. Only one in ten requests are currently realised, according to the Guardian report. The profits that can be achieved are huge, says Noel.
Gangs of organ traffickers conduct a million-dollar business in the illegal trade. Media reports consistently speak of up to US$200,000 dollars (€160,000) being demanded for a single organ on the black market. The illegal traffickers exploit the social plight of the donors, who urgently need money but often receive only a fraction of the total. Many are cheated out of any money.
The economic crisis is the main cause of the surge in the illegal human organ trade. The European Union (EU) openly admits this. The website BioEdge quotes the EU special prosecutor Jonathan Ratel saying, “Thanks to the global financial crisis the organ trade is a growth industry”. He speaks about a mutual vulnerability to criminal organ dealers: on the one hand, chronic poverty prevails; on the other side, there are well-off patients who would do anything to ensure their survival.
Jim Feehally, a professor of renal medicine at the University Hospitals of Leicester in the UK, brings out the class nature of trafficking in organs more clearly. The main problem is exploitation, the Austrian newspaper Der Standard quotes him saying. While the rich can buy not only organs, but also afford medical treatment, the donors are often denied such care.
The social dimension of the problem becomes particularly clear in the example of China. More than a a million people there need a kidney transplant, but in the past year, just slightly more than 5,000 received one.
Under such circumstances, those from the wealthier layers of society, as well as the rich from the Middle East or Europe, will pay US$100,000-US$200,000 for an illegally transplanted organ, plus the cost of the operation, transportation, etc. The vast majority of those affected from the poorer classes can do nothing other than hope to hear about a matching donor organ, while their health deteriorates further.
But such conditions no longer exist only in the so-called developing world. BioEdge reports that desperate individuals in financial need in Greece, Italy, Spain and the Balkan countries are offering their kidneys, bone marrow, lungs and even their corneas.
This tragic fact sheds a light on the situation in Serbia. Since the beginning of the world economic crisis in 2008, the country has experienced an increase in the official unemployment rate from 14 to 24 percent. Given the high average age of about 41, less than half the population over 15 years old are economically active. The aging population needs medical services urgently, but fewer people can afford them because of rising poverty.
An article in the New York Times describes the inhuman situation that many Serbs now face.
The piece describes the fate of Pavel Mircov and his wife Daniella. After the 50-year-old became unemployed during the winter, the father of two children could not find a job. When his own father recently died, he was no longer able to afford a gravestone. The phone has already been cut off.
Now, Pavel and Daniella are desperately trying to find a buyer for their kidneys over the Internet. A transplant could bring nearly $40,000.
Belonging to blood group O, Daniella could get a few thousand dollars more on the black market. “I need the money to pay for school for my two children”, writes Pavel in his sales offer.
Officially, the trade in organs in Serbia is illegal, and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But the government ignores the barbaric situation that the population confronts. Government officials told the Times that poverty is not so bad as to justify people selling their body parts illegally. The police in Serbia claim that not a single case of illegal organ trading is known to them over the past 10 years.
The fact, however, is that a veritable network of organ traffickers has now formed in the Balkans. In the small southern Serbian town of Doljevac, the government had to intervene when local residents tried to organise and register an official agency for the sale of organs and blood. With an unemployment rate of about 50 percent, more than 3,000 people wanted to participate. Given the legal situation, many are now looking to link up to the organ trade through Bulgaria and Kosovo.
The Times also explained how the official bans are avoided. It describes the fate of Milovan, a former factory worker from southern Serbia. The 52-year-old donated his kidney to a wealthy local politician. In return, the man was supposed to put him on the payroll of his company and provide him with medication. In order not to get into legal trouble, the two pretended to be brothers. The transplant was finally completed in a public hospital in Belgrade. After the politician wanted nothing more to do with him, the heavily indebted Milovan is now on his own.
Serbia is by no means an isolated case. Kosovo in particular is considered a stronghold of the illegal organ trade. To this day, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), supported by the Western powers in the war in Yugoslavia, is accused of killing Serbs, and then removing and selling their organs. Illegal transplants were performed at the Medicus clinic in the capital of Pristina until 2008. A trial of seven men accused of organ trafficking, human trafficking and other offences has been running since autumn 2011, as Focus magazine has reported.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, chair of Organ Watch, said the current conditions recall the situation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At that time, chronic unemployment produced a new wave of willing donors.
The reemergence of such barbaric conditions in the heart of Europe is a direct indictment of the capitalist system. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the reintroduction of the profit system in the former Stalinist-ruled countries led to an enormous decline in living standards. Capitalist restoration not only led to unemployment and poverty, but also to the collapse of public infrastructure and the health system.
The banking crisis is now bringing eastern European conditions to Europe as a whole. The trade in organs shows the incompatibility of the profit system with the basic needs of the majority of the people.
While technical and medical progress makes possible a high level of health care for the entire population, capitalism is forcing millions of people around the world to sell parts of their own bodies.
Organ trafficking: Dutch to lead international inquiry
Criminal gangs are involved in the illegal organ trade
Organ suspect 'held in Israel'
Kosovo organ case surgeon bailed
Guilty plea in SA kidney scandal
A Dutch medical research centre is to lead an international investigation into the trafficking of human organs.
The Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam says the project will be funded by the European Commission and will run for three years.
Researchers in Romania, Sweden, Bulgaria and Spain will also take part, as will the EU police agency Europol.
EU prosecutors are investigating organ transplants allegedly carried out illegally in Kosovo in 2008.
In May several suspects were arrested in Israel.
Separately, a Council of Europe report released in December 2010 accused Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci - a former leader of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - of involvement in organ trafficking. He has denied the allegations.
Organs were allegedly taken from prisoners killed by the KLA after the 1999 war against Serb forces.
There have been high-profile cases of illegal organ trafficking in the US and South Africa. Poverty has driven some people to sell one of their kidneys to illegal traders in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Rich patients desperate for a kidney transplant are the beneficiaries.
A statement on the Erasmus MC website says the investigation is necessary because "there is increasing evidence of organ tourism, where patients travel abroad for the transplant of an organ that could have been purchased.
"Donors, whether forced or not, often become victims of human trafficking. However, little is known about how often it occurs and how criminal organisations, physicians and others involved operate."
The findings will be discussed at an international conference in 2014. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is also involved in the project.