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The Concept of Human Organ Trafficking Research Paper


Abstract

The study focused on the concept of human organ trafficking in USA, China and Egypt. Using both secondary and primary sources of data on this concept, it was evident that organ trafficking is a common problem in the entire world and needs to be addressed. The study used questionnaires on 100 respondents in UAE who were randomly selected, to find out their opinions regarding the concept of human organ trafficking. It was evident that majority of the participants were aware of the illegal trade of human organs. In addition, the study discovered that kidney is the most wanted organ for sale. Considering the high rate of the organ trafficking trade, the study recommends thorough education and enactment of strict laws to curb the sale of body organs.

Introduction

Organ transplant is one of the modern healthcare approaches that have revolutionized the healthcare since it has become possible for a patient to receive any part of the body that they might be in need of. In spite of this, several studies have revealed that it has become hard for many people to get organs for transplant due to shortage of organs (Shen, 2016). This has led to the increased illegal business of organ trafficking.

According to Zimmerman (2011), in support of a report that was released by the World Health Organization in 2007, many people pay to receive various body organs. This is attributed to the fact that such transactions involve people of diverse nationalities and people who are not related. Additionally, the illegal trade of body organs is associated with a lot of malice; many people all over the world have suffered either internationally or domestically following engagement in numerous types of human organs trafficking (Davy, 2015). This type of trade has become common whereby people are duped into selling various parts of their body.

This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the concept of trafficking in human organs by reviewing the trade of human organs in China, Egypt and United States of America. Secondly, the research focuses on establishing the most wanted part of the human body for sale and its cost. Also, the study reviews legal and illegal rules of trafficking in human organs in different countries. The primary objective of this study is to gain the necessary insights into the concept of trafficking in human organs and the integrity of the human body.

Theoretical Framework and Topic Statement

The illegal sale of human organs has raised a lot of concerns among religious groups and individuals. As such, there are numerous debates on the integrity of human organ trafficking and the legality of such trade. Several studies have been conducted that examine the concept of human organ trafficking. According to Davy (2015), individuals can donate organs for one another. Nevertheless, donation of organs for transplant has become a form of business whereby healthcare practitioners collude with government officials and other parties to obtain organs for sale. This has been instigated by the fact that many countries experience shortages of organs for transplant (Zimmerman, 2011).

Resultantly, organ trafficking has become so common that there are cases whereby organs of dead people and those of executed prisoners are removed for sale. This study revolves around the concept of human organ trafficking with a lot of emphasis on finding answers for the following: Which body organ is most wanted for sale, the number of people willing to sale their body parts, the number of people who donated, the number of people killed for their parts, as well as how much it costs to sell body organs.

Methodology

Introduction

The focus of this study is on the concept of human organ trafficking and the integrity of the human body. To achieve the objectives of the study, quantitative and qualitative types of data are used. As such, both primary and secondary sources of data are used in this case. For example, the secondary sources of data include books and journals and other online databases that contain information on human organ trafficking.

On the other hand, to obtain the primary data, the research focusses on carrying out a survey involving 100 individuals. Through the use of a questionnaire, these individuals are questioned on their opinions regarding the concept of human trafficking and the integrity of the human body. The choice to use the questionnaire as a method of data collection in this case is based on the fact that questionnaires are suitable approaches in examining the personal opinions, outcomes and perspectives of participants regarding a given study phenomenon. In the case of this study, the questionnaire method is used to collect information from the study participants on various aspects of human organ trafficking.

Demographic characteristics of Participants

This study uses 100 participants who are randomly selected from a target population of university students, support staff and lecturers in the UAE. The use of the random sampling method gave all the subjects in the target population a chance of being included in the study. The sample size comprised of 45 female and 55 male participants. Out of these, 8 participants were aged between 18 and 30 years, while 20 participants were aged between 31 and 40 years. On the other hand, 43 participants were aged between 41 and 50 years and 19 were above 50 years of age. The table below presents the gender and ages of the respondents.

Table 1: Gender and ages of the respondents.

Age in years Gender
Female Male Total
18-30 5 3 8
31-40 11 19 30
42-50 23 20 43
Above 50 13 6 19
Total 52 48 100

The figure below shows the gender and ages of the respondents

Gender and Ages of the respondents.
Figure 1: Gender and Ages of the respondents.

In terms of the participants’ profession, 34 participants were students while 31 participants were instructors and the rest (35) were support staff. The table below highlights the profession and the ages of the participants of this study.

Table 2: The profession and the ages of the participants.

Age in years Profession
Students Support staff Instructors Total
18-30 2 3 3 8
31-40 9 10 11 30
42-50 13 20 10 43
Above 50 10 2 7 19
Total 34 35 31 100

The graph below presents the profession of the study participants against their ages.

The profession and the ages of the participants.
Figure 2: The profession and the ages of the participants.

Results

The analysis on the concept of body organs trafficking and the integrity of human body shows that many people participate in this illegal trade. From the survey results, it was evident that most of the study participants were aware of the concept of human organ trafficking. Majority of the respondents pointed out that they have had a close person donate one of their body organs to their relatives. However, none of the respondents reported to have donated or sold their body parts. In spite of this, the study discovered that majority of the respondents (90%) had heard of people who had sold their body parts. The table below shows the respondents’ data on whether or not they had heard people who had sold their organs.

Table 3: Respondents’ data on whether or not they had heard people who had sold their organs.

Age in years I have heard people who sold their organs I have heard people who sold their organs
18-30 32 2
31-40 8 3
42-50 30 4
Above 50 10 1
Total 90 10

The information above is presented graphically as shown below.

Respondents’ data on whether or not they had heard people who had sold their organs.
Figure 3: Respondents’ data on whether or not they had heard people who had sold their organs.

In addition, most of the respondents pointed out that out of all other body organs, the kidney was the most wanted organ of the body for sale. Half of the respondents had heard people who had donated their lungs, while 25% of the respondent’s attested to have heard of people who had sold their cornea. On the other hand, none of the respondents had either donated or heard of a person who had sold their heart. The table below shows the participants’ response on the organ most wanted for sale.

Table 4: Organ most wanted for sale.

Organ most wanted for sale Agree Disagree
Kidney 100 0
Cornea 25 75
Heart 0 100
Lungs 50 50

The graph highlights the response of the participants regarding organs most wanted for sale.

Organs most wanted for sale.
Figure 4: Organs most wanted for sale.

Nonetheless, all the participants of the study were aware of cases of people being kidnapped and killed for their body organs, especially for their kidneys.

In addition, the literature review showed that human organ trafficking is highly practiced in Egypt, China and the USA. Even though such practice is considered illegal in the three countries, the governments of these countries have done little to curb the practice of human organ trafficking.

Discussion

The concept of trafficking in human organs and integrity of the human body

The first cases of trafficking in human were reported in 1980s. It was reported poverty stricken citizens from India sold their kidneys to patients from foreign countries, mostly those who came from Middle East. The reports indicated that almost eighty percent of the kidneys that were procured for transplant in hospitals in India were sold to patients from places such as the Gulf States, including Singapore and Malaysia (Davy, 2015).

The scientific report that was first printed indicated that there were 131 patients from United Arab Emirates that travelled with their doctors to Bombay to seek medical advice. As a result, they were transplanted with locally donated kidneys who had received their payments for the donation. Though the report did not give so much information about the commercial aspect, it was later reported that most of those patients had complications after the operations. It had also been done before the Act of human Organs transplantation was passed in 1994. The law however prohibited the buying and selling of human organs. Further, reports indicated that the cases of selling body organs increased between 1994 and 2000.

Most researchers assumed that the human organ trafficking was being done in less developed countries. However, statistics indicated that trafficking in human organs was also happening in the developed countries. For instance, several studies indicated that more than 300 kidneys were sold in the US in 1984 and were transplanted to foreigners. Similarly, it was reported that most health centers did not want to exchange the organs with others but wanted the patients to visit their facilities so that they could help them in raising their income levels (Davy, 2015).

In Germany, it was asserted that a huge number of kidney patients were known to have got them from foreign countries such as India. At that time, human organ trafficking had become a common aspect in the world and more cases were reported every year with the highest rates in the UK in 1988. Due to such cases, the UK Act on Human Organs Transplant was passed to make the sale of human organs a criminal offence such that perpetuators would face prosecution.

However, the practice of selling human body organs has remained illegal in most countries as there are no regulations allowing the sale of the organs, but there are those prohibiting the practice (Zimmerman, 2011). Claims have it that it is against human integrity to sell the body parts of an individual. This type of illegal trade emanates from the innate desires of people to live for long and supply the organs to meet the increasing demands for the organs.

From statistics, human organ trafficking flows in all parts of the world and from poor to rich, from male to female, from black to white, from first world to third world and from North to South. The trade has over time been considered immoral as it is wrong and any profits obtained from such business would lead to more deterioration in human integrity. In most cases, such trafficking is not encouraged especially in countries with strong religious bases as well as where the restrictions would punish any individual getting involved in the practice (Davy, 2015). It however reduces with decrease in the religious beliefs in some countries. Nevertheless, there are strong cultural beliefs in the world that prohibit the sale of organ. As a result, they pose some barriers that hinder the sale of organ in the global markets.

According to the World Health Organization and the World Medical Association, the sale of human organs is considered unethical and inhumane (Capron & Delmonico, 2015). As a result, these organizations have a common belief that the sale of body organs should be stopped and the participants be highly prosecuted by the respective countries. They further advocate against the sale of organ by the use of mandates on international trade that must be adhered to by all nations. For instance, statistics from China indicate that most of the human organs used for trafficking are obtained from executed prisoners and are sold to obtain some profits. There should be a thorough examination and analysis on the sale of human organs as well as the effects the trade has in the world.

Human organs trade in China

Generally, human organ trafficking has been on the rise in China due to a variety of issues (Capron & Delmonico, 2015). China is considered to be a leader in the fight against crime and has a legal death penalty. In addition, it had passed rules regarding the trafficking of human organs in 1984. The rule stated that the organs of corpses and executed prisoners were to be given to those claiming the bodies or the organs being harvested. In addition, some prisoners or their families would also give permission for their organs to be used. However, there are claims that there is no legal stand in China concerning the trafficking of human organs.

Even though the practice is considered illegal, the Chinese government uses body organs from executed prisoners. However, it cannot expose this as it will be questionable regarding the set rules in 1984. As such, China ought to set up the necessary measures to curb the increased cases of human organ trafficking.

There has been the introduction of new regulations by the Chinese government that aim at eliminating the trafficking of human organs (Jordan, 2008). The regulations discourage hospital and medical practitioners from harvesting human organs for trade. This regulation is in the support of the government since the government stopped harvesting human organs from executed prisoners (Yik-Yi Chu, 2010).

As a result, such doctors if caught having engaged in the sale of organs such as kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts would be prosecuted and if found guilty, may even face death penalties. The new rules further assist in the strengthening of rules banning the sale of body organs. For instance, the concerned hospitals may be suspended from operations for some time and the doctors may face termination of their services as well as the revocation of their practicing licenses.

In addition, they will be fined ten times the benefits they were to get from the transaction. Recently, china has become a favorite destination for tourists from various places in the world. However, statistics indicate that China is the second country with the highest rates of transplants from USA (Shen, 2016). Most of these cases involve local individuals but the effects from them cause grave threats and ethical challenges to the patients. Hospitals are also under extreme pressure to raise profits regardless of what the source may be. However, the sale of body organs often involves wealthy foreigners while the helpless Chinese citizens wait in lines for free transplants.

Human organs Trade in Egypt

There are claims that cases of trafficking in human organs have risen in Egypt in recent times (Kamler, 2015). For instance, the trade of human organs is common among the refugees from Sudan as well as others from Eritrea, Syria, Iran, and Jordan. However, according to the laws of Egypt, trafficking in human organs is illegal. This follows the 2010 legislation that was passed by the Egyptian government after a long debate to help in the regulation of legal cases of organ transplants. The government had the hope that such rules would play an important role in ending the trafficking of human organs that mostly affects the poor in society.

The new law gave some provisions on when transplants should be done (Arhin, 2016). For instance, there has to be the approval of life –threatening circumstances by highly skilled and experienced physicians before the law can allow for organ transplants to take place. It further prohibited all forms of remuneration in terms of money for any donated organs and requires supervision by the government for the list of patients waiting for any transplant.

Strangely, the law forbids the exchange of human organs between Egyptians and foreigners from other countries with the aim of preventing and discouraging the bankrupt citizens from selling their organs to the wealthy foreigners that visit the country. However, some of the citizens do not follow this law and illegally sell their organs to strangers. To help in saving lives, the law gives an allowance for donation of the human body organs among relatives and family members. Additionally, citizens illegally use other methods to sell their organs such as using dealers whereby donors pretend to be the relatives of patients with aims of having secret arrangements to receive payments for their donated organs.

In the process of setting of the laws against trafficking in human organs, the government aims at protecting the poor citizens who are enticed with less financial compensation by wealthy foreigners to sell their organs to them (Capron & Delmonico, 2015). In Egypt, there are claims that it is unethical to sale human organs and the practice frustrates the moral aspect of keeping human dignity.

However, reports from the World Health Organization indicated that trafficking in human organs is very high in Egypt and is ranked among the top five hotspots. However, such loopholes can still be blamed on the government as there are no provisions for the prosecutors to make follow-ups on the family relationships between the donors and the patients. The law was manifested through the closure of various facilities that were illegally carrying out the practices to do with organ transplants (Arhin, 2016). Studies indicated that the cases of human trafficking have been on the decrease since the passing of the law.

Human organs Trade in United States

According to the information obtained from the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS), the number of people in the waiting list for organ transplants in the US is ever increasing (Shih, 2013). However, the number of request is far much beyond the number of available and legally obtained organs. In reality, there are more than eighteen deaths every day in the US from people waiting for organs for donations. However, this number is not only limited to the US but in various places in the world. If the US is on the lead, then the problem faces all the other countries due to the fact that there is a shortage of donors of human body organs.

Even though the trafficking of human organs is very common in the US, it is prohibited by the country’s laws. On the other hand, these laws seem to lead to more benefits to those individuals dominating in the black market. As a result, many patients are tempted to join the black market as long as they get benefits such as saving their lives and those of their loved ones. In addition, most are the cases when the brokers for such transactions make more money than the individuals selling their organs.

To help in further prevent the trafficking of human organs; the US passed the National Organ Transplant Act in 1984. This act clearly forbids any transactions involving the sale of any body organs by people within the US boundaries (Shih, 2013). In addition, it passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 and reauthorized it in 2008. Even though the characteristics given to trafficking human organs in the US are those of national implications from transnational crime, there are rare cases of prosecution from trafficking in local courts.

This is mainly due to the fact that those in charge of the prosecutions do not want to punish the donors nor the patients because they are mostly forced to do it. Their desperate situations in terms of financial wellness are mostly responsible for such behavior. As a result, most of the involved individuals are poor and have a perception that such practices will be their only ways through the challenges as well as their means for survival.

Legal and illegal Human organs trade

In most of the countries, trafficking of human organs is illegal (Zimmerman, 2011). For instance, Brazil passed its law in 1997 that prohibits the sale of human organs and tissues. As a result, it had the provision that any individual caught in the act or suspected to have any connections for the trafficking would be imprisoned for eight years and be fined 360 times the minimum wage in the country.

In Israel, the practice is not legal but refunding the donors in terms of financial incentives is legal in case a patient successfully gets an organ from a donor. On the other hand, the Human Tissue Act of South Africa clearly states that no individual should get any financial compensation for the sale of their tissues including organs, bones and fluids among others. However, the same act may be connected with the legalization of the practice since offers medical practitioners the autonomy to remove the organs of patients without their consent in case their families are not identified (Yik-Yi Chu, 2010). The case in Iran is different from most cases in the world.

The government takes part in the practice through the legalization and regulation of trafficking human organs. There are selected organizations that organize and control the trade such as the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases and the Charity Association for the Support of Kidney Patients. Both of these organizations are endorsed by the Iranian government. As such, the donors of the organs receive payments from both the recipients and the government. The two organizations play an essential role through the facilitation of the transactions when they find potential donors and connect them with the vendors to ensure fair trade practices as well as compatibility.

Trafficking human organs from dead people

In all the countries that allow for donation of human organs, they advocate for consent of the donor before their organs are removed (Zimmerman, 2011). However, participants in the black market have taken it to the extent that they can remove the organs without the consent of the donor. Such cases mean that the donor will be killed before their organs can be removed. In addition, a country such as China has legal provisions that allow the government to remove the organs of the executed prisoners if their families allow it or are not identified. However, the most essential consent in this case is that of the donor which lacks in such cases.

Ethics in organ trafficking

Different people have different beliefs regarding the trafficking human organs. There are those individuals who believe it is ethical to trade in human organs. For example, the poor people believe that it is ethical to trade in human organs. This can be associated to the fact that they are in need of money for their survival. In addition, atheists believe that the sale of human organs is ethical.

On the other hand, there are other people who believe that it is not ethical to trade in human organs. For example, the religious people have a strong belief that the sale of organs is unethical.

Recommendations

Following the results and findings of this study, it is evident that human organ trafficking is a common practice nowadays and has detrimental effects on the victims and their loved ones. For this reason, there is a need for such trade to be controlled all over the world. In this case, the matter of organ trafficking ought to be considered as an issue that concerns justice as well as health of the victims. Even though there is a need to stop the practice of organ trafficking in the world, pointing out a lasting solution to this problem can be difficult. However, the problem of body organ trafficking is an issue of concern to the entire world and thus requires the contribution of each individual.

For this reason, there ought to be laws that govern the sale of human body organs. Such laws should ensure that it is not possible for the medical practitioners, agencies of the government and other individuals to disguise themselves as donors and recipients of particular body organs while in the real sense they are transacting. Secondly, there should be laws that govern the integrity of human bodies such that they discourage the sale of dead people’s organs under whatever circumstances.

Third, education and thorough awareness on the concept of illegal human organ trafficking is needed to provide the necessary information on the consequences of participating in the illegal trade of body organs. It is believed that most people sell their body organs as a result of increased poverty and the lack of employment (Shelley, 2010). As such, the government can ensure that such cases are eliminated by creating employment opportunities and working towards reduced poverty levels.

On the other hand, countries that have a long list of people in wait for organ transplant ought to come up with better systems that are highly reliable through which the country can source for donors for the required organs without encouraging the illegal trafficking of body organs. Such systems will ensure that the poor individuals do not indulge in the business of selling their body organs. In addition, such systems will ensure that no cases of people being kidnapped for their body organs or even cases of prisoners being executed for particular parts of their bodies.

Conclusion

From the survey and literature review, it was evident that human organ trafficking has been existence for a long time and has numerous adverse effects on the affected people. Even though donating organs is considered to be a noble act, studies have showed that most people have turned the act into illegal trade. Secondly, many people all over the world have suffered from the acts of organ trafficking whereby people are other killed for their organs, or even whereby dead people’s organs are removed to be sold to rich people in need of such parts. Additionally, prisoners and children are some of the common victims of organ trafficking. Poverty and a long list of patients waiting to receive organ transplant have been cited as the major factors contributing to increased trade in organs all over the world.

Considering the adverse effects of organ trafficking in a country, there is a need for better strategies that address the issue of organ donation and transplant and the associated business. First, thorough awareness on the concept of human trafficking will help spread knowledge on the consequences of illegal organs trade. Such knowledge will also offer suitable approaches that people in need of various body organs can adopt to ensure that they get the needed organs legally.

Secondly, setting up laws and regulations to govern the donation of body organs can help reduce the human organ trafficking. On the other hand, it was evident that all countries of the world have a role to curb the illegal trade of human organs. This can be achieved through the introduction of safe systems through which people can get any organ that they need easily with the guarantee that such organs come from healthy individuals.

References

Arhin, A. (2016). A Diaspora Approach to Understanding Human Trafficking for Labor Exploitation.Journal Of Human Trafficking, 2(1), 78-98.

Capron, A. & Delmonico, F. (2015). Preventing Trafficking in Organs for Transplantation: An Important Facet of the Fight Against Human Trafficking. Journal Of Human Trafficking, 1(1), 56-64.

Davy, D. (2015). Understanding the Support Needs of Human-Trafficking Victims: A Review of Three Human-Trafficking Program Evaluations. Journal Of Human Trafficking, 1(4), 318-337.

Jordan, D. (2008). Human Smuggling: Chinese Migrant Trafficking and the Challenge to America’s Immigration Tradition. China Review International, 5(2), 554-557.

Kamler, E. (2015). Women of the Kachin Conflict: Trafficking and Militarized Femininity on the Burma-China Border. Journal Of Human Trafficking, 1(3), 209-234.

Shelley, L. (2010). Human trafficking: A global perspective. Journal Of Human Trafficking, 2(1), 5-6.

Shen, A. (2016). Female Perpetrators in Internal Child Trafficking in China: An Empirical Study. Journal Of Human Trafficking, 2(1), 63-77.

Shih, E. (2013). Health and Rights at the Margins: Human trafficking and HIV/AIDS amongst Jingpo ethnic communities in Ruili City, China. Anti-Trafficking Review, 2(6), 3-5.

Yik-Yi Chu, C. (2010). Human Trafficking and Smuggling in China. Journal Of Contemporary China, 20(68), 39-52.

Zimmerman, Y. (2011). Christianity and Human Trafficking. Religion Compass, 5(10), 567-578.

Appendices

Questionnaire

  • Have you ever heard of trafficking in human organs?
Tick where necessary
Yes
No
  • Do you have relatives or friends who have participated in selling or buying of human organs?
Yes
No
  • Do you know any regulations prohibiting the trafficking of human organs?
Yes
No
  • Do you think trafficking in human organs is a criminal offence?
Yes
No
  • If yes in 4 above, what do you think should be done to reduce the illegal trade?

…………………………………………………………………………………..

  • Which is the most commonly sold human organ?
Liver
Cornea
Kidney
Lungs
Heart
  • Which countries do you know that have legalized trafficking in human organs?

…………………………………………………………………

  • In which countries is trafficking in human organs illegal?

…………………………………………………………………

Tables

Gender and ages of respondents.

Age in years Gender
Female Male Total
18-30 5 3 8
31-40 11 19 30
42-50 23 20 43
Above 50 13 6 19
Total 52 48 100

Profession and ages of respondents.

Age in years Profession
Students Support staff Instructors Total
18-30 2 3 3 8
31-40 9 10 11 30
42-50 13 20 10 43
Above 50 10 2 7 19
Total 34 35 31 100
Age in years I have heard people who sold their organs I have heard people who sold their organs
18-30 32 2
31-40 8 3
42-50 30 4
Above 50 10 1
Total 90 10

Organs most wanted for sale.

Organ most wanted for sale Agree Disagree
Kidney 100 0
Cornea 25 75
Heart 0 100
Lungs 50 50

Figures

Gender and Ages of the respondents.
Gender and Ages of the respondents.
The profession and the ages of the participants.
The profession and the ages of the participants.
Respondents’ data on whether or not they had heard people who had sold their organs.
Respondents’ data on whether or not they had heard people who had sold their organs.
Organs most wanted for sale.
Organs most wanted for sale.
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IvyPanda. (2020, October 1). The Concept of Human Organ Trafficking. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-concept-of-human-organ-trafficking/

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"The Concept of Human Organ Trafficking." IvyPanda, 1 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-concept-of-human-organ-trafficking/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Concept of Human Organ Trafficking." October 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-concept-of-human-organ-trafficking/.


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IvyPanda. "The Concept of Human Organ Trafficking." October 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-concept-of-human-organ-trafficking/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Concept of Human Organ Trafficking." October 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-concept-of-human-organ-trafficking/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Concept of Human Organ Trafficking'. 1 October.

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