Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Growing market for human organs exploits poor

Date:
March 12, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
An anthropologist who spent more than a year infiltrating the black market for human kidneys has published the first in-depth study describing the often horrific experiences of poor people who were victims of organ trafficking.

This scar on a Bangladeshi woman is the result of selling a kidney.
Credit: 2005 photo by Monir Moniruzzaman

A Michigan State University anthropologist who spent more than a year infiltrating the black market for human kidneys has published the first in-depth study describing the often horrific experiences of poor people who were victims of organ trafficking.

Monir Moniruzzaman interviewed 33 kidney sellers in his native Bangladesh and found they typically didn't get the money they were promised and were plagued with serious health problems that prevented them from working, shame and depression.

The study, which appears in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, and Moniruzzaman's decade-long research in the field describe a growing worldwide market for body parts that include kidneys, parts of livers and even corneas.

Moniruzzaman said the people selling their organs are exploited by unethical brokers and recipients who are often Bangladeshi-born foreign nationals living in places such as the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Because organ-selling is illegal, the brokers forge documents indicating the recipient and seller are related and claim the act is a family donation.

Doctors, hospital officials and drug companies turn a blind eye to the illicit act because they profit along with the broker and, of course, the recipient, said Moniruzzaman, who questioned many of the people involved.

Most of the 33 Bangladeshi sellers in his study had a kidney removed across the border in India. Generally, the poor seller and the wealthy recipient met at a medical facility and the transplant was performed at that time, he said.

"This is a serious form of exploitation of impoverished people, whose bodily organs become market commodities to prolong the lives of the wealthy few," said Moniruzzaman, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences.

Moniruzzaman recently delivered his research findings and recommendations on human organ trafficking to both the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

His briefing included the experiences of Mehedi Hasan, a 23-year-old rickshaw puller who sold part of his liver to a wealthy recipient in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka. Like many poor Third World residents, Hasan did not know what a liver was. The broker exploited this fact and told Hasan the sale would make him rich.

The recipient died soon after the transplant. Hasan received only part of the money he was promised and is now too sick to work, walk long distances or even breathe properly. He thinks often of killing himself, Moniruzzaman said.

Organ brokers typically snag the unwitting sellers through deceptive advertisements. One ad, in a Bangladeshi newspaper, falsely promised to reward a kidney seller with a visa to the United States. Moniruzzaman collected more than 1,200 similar newspaper ads for the study.

The organ trade is thriving in Bangladesh, a country where 78 percent of residents live on less than $2 a day. The average quoted price of a kidney is 100,000 taka ($1,400) -- a figure that has gradually dropped due to an abundant supply from the poor majority, Moniruzzaman said.

One Bangladeshi woman advertised to sell a cornea so she could feed her family, saying she needed only one eye to see. That transplant didn't happen, but Moniruzzaman said there have been cases of corneas being sold.

Moniruzzaman said it's important to note that most sellers do not make "autonomous choices" to sell their organs, but instead are manipulated and coerced. He said the global trade of organs is a fairly recent phenomenon -- made possible by advances in medical technology in the past 30 years -- that represents a form of gross exploitation unseen in human history.

To combat organ trafficking, he recommends, among other steps:

  • Global governance. The U.S. Department of State should play an active role in putting pressure on national affairs and foreign governments to acknowledge the problem and insisting on crackdowns on brokers, recipients, doctors and businesspeople involved in the trade.
  • Transparency and accountability. The State Department should ensure all medical centers have a transplantation registry and verify the relationship between recipients and donors.
  • Cadaveric donation. Countries such as Bangladesh that do not have a system in which people can donate organs when they die should implement these systems. The United States should provide aid and encourage cadaveric organ donation through educational institutions, news media and religious centers.

Realistically, organ trafficking will never be eliminated, Moniruzzaman told lawmakers on the Human Rights Commission.

"But with our collaborative efforts," he said, "we can significantly reduce this gross violation of human rights."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Monir Moniruzzaman. “Living Cadavers” in Bangladesh: Bioviolence in the Human Organ Bazaar. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 2012; 26 (1): 69 DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1387.2011.01197.x

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Growing market for human organs exploits poor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120312114028.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, March 12). Growing market for human organs exploits poor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120312114028.htm
Michigan State University. "Growing market for human organs exploits poor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120312114028.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins