The World Health Organisation (WHO) officials have revealed shocking figures of illegal trade in kidneys wherein around 10,000 black market operations involving purchased human organs now take place annually.
According to the WHO report, which included evidence collected by a worldwide network of doctors, the traffickers are defying laws and cashing in on rising international demand for replacement kidneys driven by the increase in diabetes and other diseases.
The network of doctors called “custodian groups” consists of hospital specialists who treat patients with end-stage kidney failure who survive on dialysis, and surgeons who operate on those lucky enough to get a new kidney, the groups monitor reports of black market activity in their own country or involving compatriots abroad.
The gangs who buy organs from vulnerable, desperate people, for as little as $5,000 (£3184), charge nearly £128,000 for a kidney from patients who generally go to China, India or Pakistan for surgery.
Data from the WHO shows that of the 106,879 solid organs known to have been transplanted in 95 member states in 2010 (legally and illegally), about 73,179 (68.5%) were kidneys. But those 106,879 operations satisfied just 10% of the global need. But WHO does not know how many cases involved the organ being obtained legitimately from a deceased donor or living donor such as a friend or relative of the recipient.
Luc Noel, a doctor and WHO official who runs a unit monitoring trends in legitimate and underground donations and transplants of human organs, urged countries to defeat the traffickers by maximising the supply of organs from deceased and living donors, and encouraging healthy lifestyles to stop people getting conditions such as diabetes in the first place.