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Originally published May 20 2011

Transplant tourism spirals out of control as the wealthy harvest organs from the poor

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Tired of waiting for appropriate organ donors using traditional methods, patients from wealthier countries like the US are increasingly taking advantage of "transplant tourism" operations that harvest needed organs from the poor in exchange for money. Though illegal, this underground organ trade market appears to be growing, despite the fact that patients and donors often die due to infections, botched surgeries, and other complications.

A recent Bloomberg report explains that a typical organ transplant arrangement goes something like this: a desperate patient with the money and means to buy a needed organ will pay a poor, and also desperate, individual from another country to donate his or her organ in exchange for money or promises of a better life. In the end, both parties would ideally benefit from the mutual exchange. But in actuality, both the donor and the recipient often end up seriously injured or dead.

"It's a filthy business in the same subcategory as the sex trade and child pornography," said Gabriel Danovitch, medical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program at the University of California, Los Angeles, to Bloomberg. "That is why it has to be stopped."

Twenty-three-year-old Luis Picado from Nicaragua, reports Bloomberg, was one such victim of the illicit organ trade. Picado agreed to donate one of his kidneys to an older man in New York in exchange for an opportunity to escape the poverty of his native land and instead begin a new life in New York. But shortly after Picado underwent his surgery, he ended up bleeding to death. And not long after that, the recipient ended up dying as well due to organ rejection and other complications.

"The poor have become a spare-parts bank for the well-to-do," said anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a specialist in organ trafficking at the University of California, Berkeley, to Bloomberg.

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