Organ Theft Legends
The New Orleans Police Department received more than a hundred calls about this legend. But, said police and firefighters in Houston and New Orleans, it is utter nonsense. The best explanation we can offer as to why this bit of scarelore has gained, and kept, its popularity, has to do with the growing familiarity of the general population with organ transplants.
As these procedures have become more a part of the world we live in, so has awareness of the problems associated to them. The stark reality is that there are more people in need of transplantable organs than there are organs to go around. As many urban legends do, this one plays upon our fears.
Fear of travelling to distant cities and thus being out of our element. Fear of being ill and desperate. And, most of all, fear of becoming the victim of random crime. We picture that man waking up in a bathtub filled with ice, and we see ourselves in his place. But in Uttar Pradesh and a string of other states where the law has not been ratified by state legislatures, middlemen continue to track poor people in need of quick money and coax them to operating tables.
Still, news accounts from India occasionally surface reporting claims that doctors have been arrested for stealing kidneys either through trickery or force from unsuspecting citizens. Such claims are difficult to evaluate given the typical lack of any follow-ups in the Western press, but other sources suggest the usual result is that charges are dropped or reduced when investigations determine that the claimants entered into voluntary agreements to sell their kidneys and later leveled criminal accusations because they regretted their decisions or were disgruntled with the size of the payments they had received.
In May three surgeons and seven others at the Noida Medicare Center in Uttar Pradesh, India were arrested for tricking indigents out of their kidneys. According to charges made against them, members of this group approached various unemployed men, holding out the promise of jobs and offering to connect them with those doing the hiring. Victims were advised that a medical examination was required; they submitted and then were told something correctable by a small operation had turned up in the exam. During the operation and unknown to the patients, one of their kidneys would be removed for resale.
Afterwards, nothing further would come of the job offer. In that same episode, a doctor explains to detectives why a purloined kidney is of no use in the United States:. This legend also shows up as the plot of the movie The Harvest. The film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back includes a sequence during which one of the lead characters dreams he wakes up in a tub of ice after selling one of his kidneys. If you'd like to learn more about how you can support us, click here.
The Trayvon Martin Story. CLAIM Drugged travelers awaken in ice-filled bathtubs only to discover one of their kidneys has been harvested by organ thieves. I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans. The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day.
A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. Additionally, the legislation banned foreign transplant patients. It remains to be seen how it could be possible that organ transplant surgeries in Chinese hospitals have risen massively since , while there are never that many voluntary donors available.
Low costs and high availability brought in business from around the globe, and transformed India into one of the largest kidney transplant centers in the world. In some cases, patients were unaware that a kidney transplant even took place. For example, the THOA states that an organ donor must be a relative, spouse, or an individual donating for reasons of "affection" for the recipient. Often, claims of "affection" are unfounded and the organ donor has no connection to the recipient.
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In Iran, it remains legal to sell a kidney for profit. Iran currently has no waitlists for kidney transplantation. These not-for-profit organizations match donors to recipients, setting up tests to ensure compatibility. Charity organizations support recipients that cannot afford the cost of the organ. Before , the sale of organs was legal in the Philippines , and the country was a popular destination for transplant tourism. The government banned the sale of organs, effective March Often, he says, banning organ sales fosters compensation-based contractual systems between underground donors, brokers, and buyers.
According to the World Health Organization WHO , illegal organ trade occurs when organs are removed from the body for the purpose of commercial transactions. These countries include, but are not limited to:. Criminal networks increasingly engage in kidnappings, especially of children and teenagers, who are then taken to locations with medical equipment. There they are murdered and their organs harvested for the illegal organ trade. Poverty and loopholes in legislation also contribute to the illegal trade of organs.
As discussed above, legislation containing loopholes, like India's Transplantation of Human Organs Act, allows organ sales to continue. This provides another loophole for illegal trade; in some cases, an organ donor will marry the recipient to avoid a legal penalty.
The international community and national governments have long attempted to find stable, ethical systems to deal with the high demand for organ transplants. In , the United States implemented the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of , which gave individuals the right to donate their organs after their death. The most recent efforts of the United States to combat high organ demand include the revision of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act in and the Charlie W.
Norwood Living Organ Donation Act. Many other countries have passed laws aimed at ending illegal organ trade. For example, South Africa adopted the Human Tissue Act of , which outlaws the transfer of tissue including flesh , bone, organ, or bodily fluid in exchange for payment. Though claims of organ trafficking are difficult to substantiate due to lack of evidence and reliable data, cases of illegal organ trade have been tried and prosecuted in the past. In , Bombay police exposed a kidney sale and transplantation operation run by a man known as Santosh Raut.
Organ Theft Legends
Eleven people, including Raut and two nephrologists, were arrested, but Raut managed to escape. Authorities believe that Raut went on to establish similar illegal kidney centers across many Indian cities. In February , another kidney transplant center, run by a man called Amit Kumar , was discovered by police in Delhi and nearby Gurgaon. Due to technological advances in fingerprinting, Kumar and Raut are now believed to be the same perpetrator, having gone by many aliases throughout years of illegal activity.
Kumar is facing charges for his decades of involvement in illegal organ trade, which includes over illegal kidney transplants and the involvement of at least two hospitals. She also heard reports that Rosenbaum held donors at gunpoint to ensure they donated their organs. Augustine's Hospital, owned and operated by the private company Netcare Kwa-Zulu Pty Limited, guilty of counts of activity relating to illegal kidney transplant operations.
Convicted along with the private company were four transplant doctors, a nephrologist, two transplant administrative coordinators, and a translator. The charges against the parent company, Netcare , and its CEO, Richard Friedland, were dropped in order to obtain an admission of guilt from the hospital. The private company pleaded guilty to illegal kidney operations performed on Israeli , Romanian , and Brazilian citizens between June and November , including five minors.
These citizens received cash following their surgeries, while the private company was paid up-front for its involvement in the operations. In December , Turkish nationals were reported to be involved in organ trafficking in Kosovo. In , an alleged member of the Mexican Knights Templar Cartel was arrested for kidnapping and murdering minors. Children were found wrapped in blankets and stuffed in a refrigerated container inside a van.
Various accounts have stated the arrested man is part of a network that kidnaps and kills minors, after which their organs are removed. The Cartel's other sources of income include drug trafficking , extortion , illegal mining , and, illegal logging. There have been various portrayals of illegal organ trade and organ trafficking in the mass media over the past few decades.
The fictional novel Coma by Robin Cook , made into a movie by Michael Crichton , tells of unsuspecting medical patients who are put into a coma in order for their organs to be removed. Similarly, the book The Baby Train by Jan Brunvand reveals the mythical story of a man who wakes up in his hotel room with a missing kidney the night after flirting with a woman at a bar. Many of the organ trafficking tales depicted in the media contain unsubstantiated claims.
The program investigated alleged organ and tissue trafficking in Guatemala , Honduras , Argentina , and Russia. One episode discussed a man named Pedro Reggi, reporting that his corneas had been removed without his consent while he was hospitalized in a mental facility. Reggi later disputed this claim, saying that his corneas were still intact, and he had just been suffering from an acute eye infection.
Critics, such as Silke Meyer, argue that this sensationalized view of organ trafficking, often depicted as an urban myth , distracts attention from the illegal organ trade. They call for increased scientific research on illegal organ trade, so that organ trafficking legends can be replaced by scientific fact. In , Scott Carney coined the term "Red Market" to describe a broad category of economic transactions related to the human body. He writes that this increased demand has enabled a vast "Red Market," encompassing a wide variety of transactions, from organ sale to organ thievery, 'bone thievery,' 'blood farming,' and even rented space in women's wombs.
Drawing on the concepts of black markets, white markets , and gray markets , Carney suggests that commerce in body parts is distinct because bodies are not commodities in a strict sense. That is, a body part and its worth cannot be assigned a monetary value. Furthermore, Carney argues, trade in body parts creates a lifelong debt between the provider and the recipient. Straight commerce in human bodies reduces a human life to its 'meat value. According to the most recent Bulletin of the World Health Organization on the state of the international organ trade, 66, kidney transplants, 21, liver transplants, and 6, heart transplants were performed globally in The high demand for organs and long waitlists have been met with a corresponding expansion of the illegal organ trade.
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In the same year, in Canada and the United Kingdom, experts estimated that about 30 to 50 patients illegally purchased organs abroad. The United Network for Organ Sharing defines transplant tourism as "the purchase of a transplant organ abroad that includes access to an organ while bypassing laws, rules, or processes of any or all countries involved. For example, in some cases, both the donor and the recipient of the organ travel to a country with adequate facilities to perform a legal surgery.
In other cases, a recipient travels to receive the organ of a relative living abroad. This transfer typically occurs in trends: The international community has issued many ordinances and declarations against the organ trade. Examples include the World Medical Authority's denouncement of organs for commercial use; the Council of Europe 's Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine of and its Optional Protocol Concerning Transplantation of Organs and Tissues of Human Origin; and the Declaration of Istanbul on organ trafficking and transplant tourism. The principles clearly stated that organs cannot be the subject of financial transactions.
On May 22, , these guidelines were slightly amended at the 57th World Health Assembly. They are intended for the use of governments worldwide. The Declaration of Istanbul on organ trafficking and transplant tourism, drafted by the international transplant community, defines transplant commercialism, organ trafficking, and transplant tourism. Data from the World Health Organization indicates that impoverished people in developing nations are the primary group targeted by the illegal organ trade. His corpse, and those of family members traveling with him, were found several days later with missing organs and bags of money believed to be the proceeds from an organ sale.
One of the primary reasons donors articulate for why they sell their organs is to pay off debt. While some supporters of the organ trade argue that it helps lift some people out of poverty by providing compensation to donors, evidence of this claim is hotly debated. The donor's socioeconomic situation is crucial in understanding the motives and outcomes of organ donation, particularly in relation to economically disadvantaged organ donors.
In some cases, organs are sold to family members, either from parents to offspring, or from adult children to parents. This is more frequent in nations where waiting lists are less formal, and among families which cannot afford to leave the country for transplants. The trend of younger people donating to their more aged relatives is relatively new, and has been criticized for placing greater value on kidneys from live donors. Reports by the World Health Organization show decreased health and economic well-being for those who donate organs through transplant tourism.
Though not a stub by pure word count, this article lacks depth of content. You had a few too many drinks in a disreputable bar someplace in an otherwise tropical paradise. You don't remember much of last night, only that you are in a bathtub full of ice, and you have some stitches along the sides of your back In the first world it's mostly an urban legend , where a group of enterprising thieves steal people's organs and sell them to someone else. Organ donors and recipients need to be compatible; you need a donor of the same blood type, similar genes, and a whole slew of other requirements.
It's also important that the organ comes from a relatively healthy donor, as there's not much point in trading kidney failure for AIDS. Organs are very much alive, and will not survive forever outside the human body; kidneys can last for about 36 hours, livers 12 hours, and hearts only 4  , so generally speaking you have to be ready to have the surgery at the drop of a hat. Once the operation is done, your body will begin to attack the organ as if it was a foreign invader; to prevent this, immuno-suppressant drugs need to be taken for life.
So how much does this normally cost? Well, organ transplants are one of the most expensive operations known to medicine, at anywhere from a quarter million to over a million dollars . Most countries have a larger demand for organs than supply. Some people have fears that if people check the "organ donor" box when they get a driver's license, if they are injured their doctors will intentionally let them die to harvest their organs  , which is not true. In fact, in Portugal one has to register to be a non -donor after death.