We sometimes see this sort of thing in movies and tv programs, but many of us think it is just some plot line to make a show around. Wrong.
Two news items caught my eye today, one from Viet Nam, the other from Pakistan, both dated 25th November.
The story from Viet Nam involved a trader ring, who persuade others to cross the border to China and sell one of their kidneys.
Two of the gang members got started after selling their own kidneys, then got involved in transporting others to the kidney dealers in China. According to the court's verdict, from 2008 to February this year, the four members of the ring who have been sentenced to prison took 19 poor Vietnamese nationals from HCM City and southern provinces to China to sell their kidneys.
The second story came from Pakistan, The people come from rural areas like Yazman in Bahawalpur district, one of the areas that is carrying out this practice. Bahawalpur police said that last year 30 confirmed cases have been reported..
So I had a google around on this topic.
The same source of the above Pakistan news item reported, on 11th November, about an illegal kidney transplant centre run by a senior surgeon of the Lahore General Hospital.
And then I found a report of one man from Belarus, who spent a month locked up, waiting for the surgeon to come to remove his kidney to be implanted in an Israeli woman. He had replied to an advert offering good money to those willing to donate their organs. He received threats to his family if he spoke about his ordeal.
And finally, I came across an article which claimed that African refugees were captured by Bedouin tribes to have their organs transplanted. Here, it claimed, after harvesting the organs, the victims were left to die and dumped in an old well. (It also said several organs were removed, not just kidneys). Mobile clinics come from a private hospital in Cairo to an area in the deserts of Mid-Sinai and conduct physicals on the Africans before they choose those suitable, then they conduct the operation.
More worryingly, the doctors who are often involved in this trade have not seen any threat by the concerned authorities. Usually it's the middle men that get caught. Organ sales are, of course, banned across the globe.
I should point out that ALL these reports are dated this month.