By Kaitlyn Schaeffer

Many of the organ trafficking stories swirling around the web focus on supply; not much has been paid to demand.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) recently admonished the wealthy Europeans who have traveled to countries such as China, India, and Egypt in search of illegal organs. These MEPs say that Europeans who engage in such acts facilitate the organ trade, an illegal practice that involves many human rights abuses.

While the organ trade exists in many parts of the world, MEPs are calling on Europeans to take responsibility for the role they play in promoting the organ trade.
“There are apparently European citizens that travel to China to profit from illegal organ trade. It is a European problem and a human rights problem, said German MEP Peter Liese.

The shortage of organs available for donation worldwide leads many who have the funds available to explore other options. Desperate buyers often pay enormous sums of money to procure necessary organs; on the black market, kidneys run $150,000 apiece, while a heart can cost up to $1,000,000. Huge demand and willingness to pay hefty prices has bolstered the organ trade in many areas. In less developed countries, organized crime groups routinely solicit organs from poor people in need of quick money; some criminal organizations simply kill these individuals and sell all of their organs.

To combat the organ trafficking problem, many international organizations have joined forces to create “The Declaration of Istanbul,” which focuses on the organ trade and transplant tourism. Among the recommendations it makes to end these serious problems, the declaration calls on governments, health care institutions, and NGOs to remove disincentives and obstacles to organ donation within their counties in an effort to alleviate organ shortages in their own countries. If more organs become available legally, people should be less likely to explore more illicit options.

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