Skip to comments.FEATURE - Keen Demand Fuels Global Trade in Body Parts
Posted on 08/06/2007 6:33:27 PM PDT by JACKRUSSELL
(HONG KONG)--Paul Lee got his liver from an executed Chinese prisoner; Karam in Egypt bought a kidney for his sister for $5,300; in Istanbul Hakan is holding out for $30,700 for one of his kidneys.
They are not so unusual: a dire shortage of donated organs in rich countries is sending foreigners with end-stage illnesses to poorer places like China, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Colombia and the Philippines to buy a new lease of life.
Lee, a 53-year-old chief subway technician in Hong Kong, was diagnosed with liver cancer in January 2005 but doctors denied him a transplant because they feared the tumour would spread.
A friend told him about a transplant hospital in China's north eastern Tianjin city and he signed up for a place. That April, he paid 260,000 yuan (US$34,380) for a transplant -- surgery that saved his life.
"The hospital has connections with a lot of prisons," Lee told Reuters. "Mine came from an executed prisoner from Heilongjiang. I thank the donor deeply."
The World Health Organisation estimates that 21,000 liver transplants are carried out annually, but medical experts put annual worldwide demand at at least 90,000.
Demand for kidneys also exceeds supply, and that has given rise to organ trafficking and a black market for rich people and "transplant tourists" who travel to poor countries to buy body parts from people with few other routes to a better living.
A donor in South Africa receives $700 for a kidney compared with $30,000 in the United States. A lack of transparency and little protection for donors has spurred calls by international bodies to crack down on, or at least regulate, the trade.
But even where the trade is banned, laws are often muddled or laced with loopholes, which are sometimes defended by vested interests.
And the unregulated route is much less complicated for the recipient. Any transplant procedure involving a living donor carries risks for the donor -- especially for liver transplants which involve removing part of the donor's liver.
The complications can include bleeding, infection, even death.
In the transplant trade, the recipient need not worry about, for example, exposing a living relative to that risk.
"It is cheaper and your next of kin is not taking the risk and you don't have to care for someone you don't know. Once you pay, it is discarded in a way, it is dispensable," said Luc Noel, a Geneva-based coordinator for Clinical Procedures at the World Health Organisation.
China recently banned the sale of human organs and restricted transplants for foreigners, saying it must first meet demand at home for 2 million organs a year.
Only 20,000 transplants are carried out in China each year. Of these, 3,000 are liver transplants and 95 percent of them use livers from dead donors.
China defended its use of organs from executed prisoners, saying consent was obtained from convicts or their families. A transplant operation using the liver of a dead donor costs around $33,000 in China.
"What is important is the transparency, it has to be open to scrutiny ... if China makes its current system open to scrutiny and very transparent, that would do good," said the WHO's Noel.
In Asia, a cultural obsession with keeping the body of the deceased intact has stymied public organ donation programmes.
Excluding China, Asia has fewer than 200 livers donated by people ahead of their death each year, said Lo Chung-man, professor of hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery at the University of Hong Kong.
Pakistan, where trade in human organs is not illegal, is turning into a "kidney bazaar", said the chief executive of Pakistan's Kidney Foundation, Jaffar Naqvi.
There are no confirmed figures for the number of foreigners coming to the country for new kidneys but Naqvi said there were 13 centres in Lahore alone which reported more than 2,000 transplants last year from bought kidneys.
Patients, mostly from Europe, Saudi Arabia and India, pay about 500,000 rupees ($8,500) for a new kidney, he said. Donors are paid $300 to $1,000 and often get no medical care after the surgery.
There is no consent in some cases. In May police arrested nine people, four of them doctors, for abducting people, drugging them and stealing their kidneys for transplant operations.
In the pipeline is a draft law aimed at banning the trade, but a powerful lobby bent on preserving it is trying to ensure it allows kidney donations for a non-relative, with no payment. Such a clause allowing "altruistic" organ donations will ensure the trade continues with secret payment to donors, Naqvi said.
Stories of people selling their organs, especially kidneys, are not uncommon in Egypt, where more than 30 percent of a population of more than 73 million people live below the poverty line.
Karam, who asked to be identified only by his first name because organ trading is illegal, said it took him only 15 days to secure a kidney for his sister who was suffering from kidney failure. He said a doctor found him a man willing to sell his kidney for 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,300).
"The fees of the doctor were 5,000 pounds. Both his money and the fees of the hospital were deducted from the money the 'donor' received," said Karam.
He said doctors usually help in finding people willing to sell their organs from their patients' lists.
Abdel-Kader Hegazy, head of the disciplinary committee at the Doctors' Union, said Egyptian law lacks clear punishment for those involved in illegal transplants, making it easy for doctors to repeat the offence.
"The law says it is illegal to trade in organs but does not specify the punishment. We at the union suspended many doctors and closed their practices, but they have appealed before courts and won their licenses back," he told Reuters.
"It is an annoying and a regrettable situation. Well-known doctors and professors are doing this. They are rich people but they do it because they have no moral values."
The union has been pushing for legislation to regulate organ transplants, with a draft bill including heavy fines and a prison sentence for those involved and a ban on transplants between people of different nationalities.
But the draft law has been languishing in parliament for several years because of differences between doctors and senior Muslim religious leaders on whether Islam allows organ transplants in the case of clinical deaths.
In Turkey, students, unemployed young men and struggling fathers post adverts on the Internet selling their kidneys, listing their drinking and smoking habits and blood type. These would-be donors say they have had enquiries from Germany, Israel and Turkey with asking prices going up to 50,000 lira ($38,760).
Hakan, a 27-year-old security guard in Istanbul with two young children who also requested only his first name be published, told Reuters he received five or six offers from Turkey and Germany, offering 10,000-15,000 lira ($11,600), but he's holding out for 40,000 lira.
"Of course it's frightening but there's nothing else to be done," he said, adding he hadn't told his wife as he knew she would object.
"I'm doing it because of my family, if I was alone it wouldn't matter. I've got two children ... there's nothing else I can do for them."
(Additional Reporting by Emma Ross-Thomas in Istanbul, Robert Birsel in Islamabad and Alaa Shahine in Cairo)
Amjad Ali points to scars on his body after his kidney was removed in an operation outside his home near Bahawalpur district, Pakistan in this July 9, 2006 file photo. A dire shortage of donated organs in rich countries is sending foreigners with end-stage illnesses to poorer places to buy a new lease of life. (REUTERS/Asim Tanveer/Files)
I don’t see why its legal to pay the doctor and pay the hospital but not pay the donor.
This may be of interest to you.
The National Traditional Chinese Medicine Thrombus Treatment Center in Shenyang City. According to a former nurse who worked there, the Sujiatun death camp is in an underground complex connected to this hospital.
The furnace unit on the southwest side of the hospital. There are two doors leading to the underground complex of the Sujiatun death camp. According to the witnesses, the remains of Falun Gong practitioners are incinerated here after their organs are extracted.
Mr. Zuo Zhigang, age 33, was arrested on May 30, 2001, by the Shijiazhuang City police. He was beaten to death that night at the Qiaoxi District Police Station. His corpse was covered with scars, and there were two large square-shaped holes on the back of his torso, consistent with kidney harvesting.
Mr. Ren Pengwu, age 33, was arrested by the police in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province on February 16, 2001. Five days later, he was murdered and all his organs, from his pharynx and larynx to his penis, were removed. The authorities hastily cremated his remains that same day without his family's knowledge or consent.
On May 14, 2004, two policemen abducted Ms. Wang Yunjie while she was working in a shopping center and later sent her to the infamous Masanjia forced labor camp. To break her will and force her to renounce Falun Gong, the police tortured her every day for the next six months with beatings, hanging her in the air, depriving her of sleep, solitary confinement, forcing her to stand or squat for days at a time, etc. She was also forced to do hard labor for extended hours. In December 2002, after depriving her of sleep for many days, the police stripped her clothes and shocked her breasts with two electric batons for half and hour. They then tied her up like a ball by forcibly bending her upper body down to her legs and handcuffing her arms behind her back. While in that position, they hung her up by her wrists for seven hours. The protracted torture severely damaged her body, the electric shocks disfigured her breasts, and her left breast became infected and festered. Even then, the labor camp continued to torture her for another six months. Only when she was on the verge of death did the labor camp order her family to pay 2000 Yuan and take her home.
Mr. Wang Bin was arrested and detained at the Dongfeng Xinchun Labor Camp. On the night of September 27, 2000, five guards and prisoners beat him so severely that they broke his neck, injured his tonsils, crushed his lymph nodes, and fractured several bones. He was taken to the Daqing People's Hospital, but died in the hospital on October 4, 2000. Two doctors in the hospital removed his heart and brain. The photo shows that his body had been operated on.
Please remember the name: Sujiatun. It will one day be as infamous as Auschwitz and Dachau.
On March 8, 2006, a Chinese journalist on the run from the Chinese communist regime disclosed to Falun Gong practitioners in the United States some appalling news: a secret death camp in Sujiatun, Shenyang City, Liaoning Province in China.
According to this journalist, over 6,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been taken to Sujiatun. "I believe that once they are in they 100% cannot come back out," the journalist said. He also disclosed that there are incineration chambers and a large number of doctors there. "Why are there incineration chambers there? Why are there so many doctors inside? Certainly not for the benevolent treatment of prisoners. Something you simply cannot imagine..."
"The prisoners, the Communist Party definitely will not let them just waste food there. Why are they there then? ... They will all be murdered, and all their organs will be harvested and distributed to hospitals. The sale of human organs is a vastly profitable trade in China."
Falun Gong practitioners are not the only victims of such crimes. One week after the journalist's disclosure, a former nurse whose ex-husband had taken part in harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners also stepped forward to testify:
"I used to work at the Liaoning Thrombus Treatment Center, which was next to the concentration camp. My ex-husband had taken part in removing corneas from Falun Gong practitioners. This brought disaster to my family."
"In early 2001, my husband was assigned by the hospital to secretly remove corneas from Falun Gong practitioners. He hid this from me at the beginning, but slowly I sensed he was in great agony, had nightmares often, and was always stressed. After my repeated inquiries, he told me the truth in 2003."
"He knew they were Falun Gong practitioners. Every doctor who took part knew. They were told that eliminating Falun Gong was not a crime, but helping the Communist Party to do 'cleansing.' Those who were taken in on the operating tables were anesthetized. Elderly people or children were mostly used for harvesting corneas."
"At the time when my ex-husband told me about this, he could no longer bear the torment of doing such evil things, and decided to leave China to escape the horror. He said to me: you cannot possibly know my despair, because those Falun Gong practitioners were still alive. It was different from removing organs from dead people - they were alive."
"Because of this, I divorced him. I said to him: you are done with your career; you will not be able to hold a scalpel in the future."
"I know there are still Falun Gong practitioners in that hospital," this nurse said in the end. "I hope this crime can be exposed to the international society as quickly as possible, so their lives can be saved. I also hope, through my disclosure, to atone my relative's crime."
The victims are not even limited to Chinese. It is an open secret that China has become the world capital of organ transplantation, and ships human organs to nearby countries such as Thailand. Tens of thousands from different parts of the world have received organ transplants in China and Thailand, being assured that the organs have been legally obtained. How will they and their surgeons feel when they learn about the barbaric organ harvesting, even if the organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners turn out to account for a portion of all human organs used in transplant operations? Is there a way for them to remove the doubt? Will they want to find out? Or will they bear that doubt and forever avoid mentioning "transplanted in China"?
Another doctor recently stated that extracting organs from living prisoners is common across China. How many more camps like Sujiatun exist?
It was precisely because we abhor such appalling crimes that humanity vowed "Never again!" after the shock of the Holocaust. Yet, as this vow is still ringing in the ears of Holocaust survivors, we are in for another shock - or are we? How do we explain to ourselves and our children that we have watched the systematic eradication of Falun Gong for more than six years and allowed it to escalate to the emergence of human organ harvesting factories like Sujiatun?
It is not due to a lack of information. Ever since July 1999, Falun Gong practitioners in China have been taking great risks to collect and send abroad, on a daily basis, detailed information on the extensive and severe human rights violations committed by the Chinese communist regime. Falun Gong practitioners overseas have worked their hardest to disseminate this information to governments, media, opinion leaders, the United Nations, and the general public to appeal for their attention.
It is not because the information is unsubstantiated. In the past few years, many Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Commission have cited in their annual reports numerous cases of torture and killing of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese regime. Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir wrote in her 2003 report: "The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts of torture defy description." On October 15, 2004, seven Special Rapporteurs sent a joint letter to China to express their concern about the persecution of Falun Gong. These Special Rapporteurs are the most-respected authorities on human rights. Their findings and opinions on the Chinese regime's persecution of Falun Gong have been reprinted to thousands upon thousands of copies and submitted to world governments and media.
History, unfortunately, repeats itself. Just as the Holocaust information provided by Jewish groups was cast aside or downplayed because of the "unsubstantiated nature of the information" and its "prejudiced sources," information from Falun Gong practitioners has received the same fate. History has also shown that all major atrocities occurred when there was not enough media exposure, when perilous signals were ignored because they were "incomplete" or "unsubstantiated" or from "prejudiced sources" - when evildoers' deceits prevail, when the silence allows the evildoers to carry on unnoticed and unhindered.
History, however, never duplicates itself exactly.
There is no major military or ideological confrontation in the world now. While the Allies did not have their focus on saving the Holocaust victims, at least they were fighting the Nazis and determined to win the war. We do not have that excuse now. On the contrary, we are apparently determined to win the market in China.
Technology is far more advanced now than it was in WWII, and we do not even need to be at Auschwitz or Buchenwald to know what is going on there. If 6,000 people have been taken in to Sujiatun and none has come out, how hard is it to see from surveillance satellites the suspicious traffic going in and out to figure out that it is a death camp?
There are now many international human rights laws that were not available before the Nuremberg trials, and there are now many surveillance and protection mechanisms implemented by the United Nations. How hard is it to demand an international investigation into the serious claim of the death camp's existence? What were those international human rights laws established for?
We do not always ignore incomplete or unsubstantiated information from China, however. When Dr. Jiang Yanyong disclosed the Chinese regime's deadly lies about the SARS epidemic, the retired doctor's letter to the media contained only what he had heard from his colleagues. Did the world hesitate for a second because the information was "incomplete" or "unsubstantiated"? Why didn't the information's incompleteness prevent decisive action by the international community? In fact, his letter was sent only to Chinese media, but Western media got hold of it and publicized it. Why does the world react so differently to the SARS news and the Sujiatun news, both of life-and-death importance? Isn't it because Sujiatun is about other people's lives?
If that is not enough to make us look at the selfish side of our humanity, consider this: if Sujiatun happened anywhere else other than China, whether in democratic countries or in North Korea, Sudan, or Cuba, it would have caused major outcries. Only the human greed for economic gains from China has kept the Sujiatun death camp from being an international issue.
"The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated." Justice Jackson knew the legacy that the Nuremberg trials would leave behind when he drafted his opening speech. If he have lived to see the post-Nuremberg wrongs, he might have been more introspective and lead a trial on human conscience and how it could allow the wrongs to continue to happen.
Pro Life, Moral Absolutes
There might be a great demand in Washington for backbones, testacles, and guts!!!
A sharp trader would clean up there!!!
THESE are the Fiends the international globalists are funding with OUR export dollars!!!
Fair & Equitable Trade
Sadly, I don't believe there is enough of any of the three in residual supply to provide the impetus to transplant more.
Hunter is my first choice - I am disappointed he isn’t moving up from the “Second Tier” of third rate losers.
JuileAnnie is no more a Republican than Tony Blair, McCain is a total catastrophy - always was, and ROmney - well Romeny is Romney is the only one of the “top tier” candidates I would vote for - reluctantly.
Hunter is the best, Tancredo is second, and Newt Gingrich would be great if he ran.
I liked Thompson initially, but his selection of that Abraham character as his campaign manager is conjuring up visions of a Second Bush II.
You’re probably right. They would need every body in China.
I’m sure most of the transplants wouldn’t “take” anyway - the recipient body wouldn’t know what to dow ith them!!
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