For the last few years, illegal trade in human is on rise in the Middle Eastern countries. This trade appears to be flourishing in countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. According to media reports, organ brokers are increasingly approaching migrants with the offer of a passage to Europe in exchange for donating an organ. The irony is that the trade is being driven by the broad European Union policy to “externalize borders” by increasing the capacity of African states, such as Libya, Egypt and Sudan to manage migration, given a boost by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. An organized network of human organ dealers are luring people in migrating to European nations by crossing the Mediterranean only once the victim agrees to ‘donate’ his/her kidney. Each of the kidney is priced at US$5,000, which is considered as transfer fees for each of the aspirant migrant.
According to reports, these collected human organs are sold at a price ranging between US$ 150,000~200,000. Meanwhile, it is also learnt that many of the aspirant migrants are murdered by the members of the human organ trafficking network, while all of their body organs are sold to a third party that works on behalf of the possible patient of human organ bank. Newspaper reports claim, currently cost of a human heart ranges between US$110,000~150,000 while the cost of a liver is US$130,000~140,000. Particularly the demand for human organs is on rise in the wealthy Middle Eastern countries.
Meanwhile, taking advantage of such cash making venture, a number of militancy groups such as Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Shabab, and Boko Haram have already taken lead role in the human organ selling activities. It is also learnt that Afghan Taliban and several militancy groups inside Pakistan and India have also joined the international racket of human organ trafficking.
Recently international rights groups, including the United Nations have issued warnings stating, several foreign agencies are luring people with high-paying jobs in the Middle Eastern and European nations with the nefarious target of turning them into human organ commodity. It said, once anyone agrees to donate any of the parts of his/her body, those human organ trading rackets are arranging visa and airline tickets for the victims and on the way to destination, either kidney of the victims is taken by the rackets or even in some cases, the rackets collect most of the valuable parts of the victims, thus pushing them to death. Once the victim dies, their bodies or skeletons also are handed-over to the agents of prospective buyers.
Massive network of human organ traders in India
Although sale of human organs is outlawed in India several years ago, organized racket of human organ dealers is becoming increasingly active in the country. According to experts, the kidney buyers mostly come from Europe, Middle East, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine North America, and Australia. There are a number of illegal ‘kidney bazaars’ (kidney markets) in India.
Interviews with Nephrologists and Surgeons from Chennai and Bangalore revealed 4 trans-national circuits of business collaboration and patient referral, linking India to the UK, North America, Russia and the Indian Ocean circuit (Middle East Asia, South East Asia and North Africa), in the early 1990s.
According to Dr Cohen, in the 1980s information was available to international networks of nephrologists that viable kidney transplantation was available in India, using kidneys from unrelated local sellers. The kidney buyers came from Europe, the Middle East, Japan, North America, Southeast Asia, and Australasia in order to benefit from the ‘kidney bazaar’ (market) in India.
According to a UAE surgeon, ‘Bombay kidneys’ were cheaper and less safer than ‘Madras kidneys’. After 1994, the strict implementation of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA), made it difficult for foreign recipients to buy a kidney, for example, from the legal source. This resulted in another phenomenon where Non Resident Indians (NRIs) would become kidney buyers from the Indian kidney market – called appropriately the “biologization of diasporic return”. These new buyers are NRIs and their aging parents, who had migrated to the western countries in the 1960s-80s.
Many of them are facing higher rates of organ failure than the general population, due to mostly unhealthy or ignorant lifestyle. The so-called five-star hospitals in India are reportedly playing active role in collection and sale of human organs – including ‘transplant tourism’.
This chain of hospitals emerged from the market liberalization of the 1980s in India, and has branches or franchises in several Indian cities and agents in most of the countries in the world.
Interactions of experts with kidney recipients from India revealed that not only the sellers but also the buyers are at risk. Having spent a large amount of money on buying a kidney and the transplant procedure, many of them are not able to sustain the long-term immunosuppressant therapy which is necessary to prevent rejection of the transplant by the recipients’ body. Often, they underestimate the long-term costs and their monthly income cannot sustain these unanticipated expenses, which results in kidney failure.
In addition to this, there is also the problem of the younger generation of Nephrologists going ahead with transplantation surgeries without doing sufficient tissue factor matches. This again results in the need to take immunosuppressant therapy for longer periods. It is also observed that in the long run, more than the kidney buyer (in addition to the brokers, the doctors and the transplant centers), the drug companies benefit substantially from the whole process.
Despite existing law banning sale of human organs, law enforcement agencies in India are unable to stop this cruel trade, as in most cases, top-brasses in the law enforcement agencies as well as those ruling elites are having stake in the ongoing illegal human organ trade.
For the last 4-5 years, a number of militancy groups in India have joined the trade of human organ collection, sale and even trafficking, as it has already become a multi-billion-dollar trade in India alone.
Ukraine, another epicenter of human organ trafficking
A number of human organ rackets are operating in Ukraine under the command of Russian mafias. Ever-since Russian invasion of Crimea, it has turned into a hotbed of human organ trade. Organized rackets from Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and Iraq are connected with the Russian Kidney Mafia network. Those rackets in Crimea are controlled from Russia’s St Petersburg based mafias, who sell the human organs to a number of nations in the European, Australian, American and Asian continent.
According to information, Russian mafias are luring young girls and boys with high-paying job offers. They force the girls initially into prostitution, while the boys either are engaged into dealing in drug or their body organs are taken with the help of several medical surgeons. Once those girls continue in prostitution for some years, the Mafias would then compel them in donating their kidneys or any other part of the body, by luring them of getting much better opportunity in the western countries. If any of those girls or boys decline to sell their body organs, mafias would send them to secret location, where they will be slowly killed by taking each and every valuable parts of their bodies.