Commentary in The Lancet on the Declaration of Istanbul Sees Organ Transplantation Worldwide Threatened by Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism and Commercialism
Organ commercialism, which targets vulnerable populations (such asilliterate and impoverished persons, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, andpolitical or economic refugees) in resource-poor countries, has beencondemned by international bodies such as the World Health Organization fordecades. Yet in recent years, as a consequence of the increasing ease ofinternet communication and the willingness of patients in rich countries totravel and purchase organs, organ trafficking and transplant tourism havegrown into global problems. For example, as of 2006, foreigners receivedtwo-thirds of the 2000 kidney transplants performed annually in Pakistan.
The Declaration of Istanbul proclaims that the poor who sell their organsare being exploited, whether by richer people within their own countries orby transplant tourists from abroad. Moreover, transplant tourists riskphysical harm by unregulated and illegal transplantation. Participants in theIstanbul Summit concluded that transplant commercialism and tourism and organtrafficking should be prohibited. And they also urged their fellow transplantprofessionals, individually and through their organizations, to put an end tothese unethical activities and foster safe, accountable practices that meetthe needs of transplant recipients while protecting donors.
The Commentary points out that countries from which transplant touristsoriginate, as well as those to which they travel to obtain transplants, arejust beginning to address their respective responsibilities to protect theirpeople from exploitation and to develop national self-sufficiency in organdonation. The authors expect that the Declaration will reinforce the resolveof governments and international organizations to develop laws and guidelinesto bring an end to wrongful practices. "The legacy of transplantation isthreatened by organ trafficking and transplant tourism. The Declaration ofIstanbul aims to combat these activities and to preserve the nobility oforgan donation. The success of transplantation as a life-saving treatmentdoes not require-nor justify-victimizing the world's poor as the source oforgans for the rich."
The Declaration of Istanbul has been endorsed by The TransplantationSociety and the International Society of Nephrology, which sponsored theSummit meeting.
SOURCE The Transplantation Society
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