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Tackling a gruesome trade
Arthur Caplan   Oct 20, 2009   Philadelphia Inquirer  

A new report suggests some necessary steps for dealing with organ trafficking, a problem that has burst into the headlines in recent months.

Five rabbis were indicted in July after an investigation in New Jersey stumbled upon a pipeline apparently involving poor Israeli Jews being trafficked into the United States to sell their kidneys. One rabbi allegedly paid $10,000 to the kidney seller and pocketed $100,000 as his fee. The criminal complaint quotes him as saying he had been in the organ business for a decade.

Also last summer, a North Carolina tissue bank was involved in a recall of tainted tissues obtained from funeral homes, whose directors were allegedly paid $1,000 a body. And reports continue to appear of body parts being trafficked for money in Germany, Latvia, Egypt, Brazil, the Philippines, Moldova, Albania, China, and many other nations. Some estimates say bought kidneys are used in up to 5 percent of transplants.

I coauthored a report, commissioned by the United Nations and the Council of Europe and released last week, on what to do about this illicit and repugnant trade in human flesh. It calls on national and international organizations to take steps to monitor trafficking in order to gather solid information on the extent of the problem.

Read the rest here


Joint Council of Europe/United Nations Study on trafficking in organs, tissues and cells and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs

Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D., is the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

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