The World Health Organization (WHO) now estimates that 10,000 black market kidney transplantations take place each year. That works out to more than one an hour. Denis Campbell and Nicola Davison, writing for the Guardian, report that transplant tourist patients pay up to US$200,000 for a black market kidney in China, India, or Pakistan. The money is paid to “gangs who harvest organs from vulnerable, desperate people, sometimes for as little as US$5,000.”
Campbell and Davison cite the arrest of 10 people last week by the Israeli police—including a doctor—“suspected of belonging to an international organ trafficking ring and of committing extortion, tax fraud, and grievous bodily harm.” Similar organizations have been uncovered in India and Pakistan. In one case, Campbell and Davison contacted a Chinese organ broker who advertised, “Donate a kidney, buy the new iPad.” The broker was offering ~US$5,000 for a kidney and told Campbell and Davison that the operation could take place within 10 days.
Luc Noel, a doctor and WHO official who monitors trends in legitimate and illegitimate organ transplants, is cited by Campbell and Davison as saying that the illicit organ trade fell in 2006-07 but is once again rising, with kidneys accounting for 75 percent of the illegal transplants.
An unnamed source tells Campbell and Davison, “While commercial transplantation is now forbidden by law in China, that’s difficult to enforce; there’s been a resurgence there in the last two or three years.” The source claims the transplants are performed in some of China’s military hospitals. The Chinese have pledged to stop harvesting organs from executed prisoners by 2017.