Organs are big business on the black market. A harvested organ is worth 15 times more than it’s original price.
Every reported case involving the illegal harvesting and sale of body parts is motivated by money.
Aside from the significant profit potential of organ harvesting, another powerful driving force is the increasing gap between supply and demand. The greatest demand for organs originates in the United States.
The most common type of organ transplant around the world is kidney transplants. It makes sense, since people can survive with just one functioning and healthy kidney. Determining the exact price for a kidney may depend on one’s geographic location and on an individual's socio-economic status. The poor and those in financially crisis are far more likely to consider donating a kidney. Live kidney donors are more common these days than deceased kidney donors.
According to Havocscope.com, the average price fetched for a kidney seller is $5,000 USD while the average price paid by a buyer of a kidney is estimated somewhere around $150, 000 USD.
Determining an accurate price guide for the black market in the organ trade is not an easy task, to say the least. However, the prices here were compiled from various organ trafficking cases worldwide.
Here is a rough price guide for both kidney buyers and sellers from different corners of the earth.
As we can see, prices vary considerably. One reason for the disparity is that the price may reflect just a single individual or specific case uncovered by investigators.
Europe provides a snapshot of the increasing demand for kidneys. It is estimated that over 120, 000 people in Europe are on dialysis and 40,000 are awaiting a kidney transplant.
In Yemen, middle-men or ‘brokers’ receive large sums while the actual organ ‘donors’ are only paid a fraction.
Of course, kidneys are not the only organs that are in high demand. Hearts, livers, pancreas, eyes, lungs, blood marrow, tissue, stem cells and skin are also sought after for individual transplants. Not only that, but human organs, tissue, stem cells, tendons, skin, bones and more are also in demand from organizations in the medical and pharmaceutical fields.
From: International Trafficking of Human Organs (2012)
As is commonly known, organ harvesting and trafficking is a global issue and the US is no exception. A particularly gruesome example of an organ harvesting operation involving a funeral home in Brooklyn, New York made headlines in 2005.
A company named [Biomedical Tissue Services] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomedical_Tissue_Services) secretly procured organs from the bodies of deceased individuals that were awaiting cremation. Nearly 10,000 bodies had been harvested for their parts by Dr. MastroMarino and his associates.
Investigators believe that the Dr. Mastromarino, made millions from the illegal sale of human organs and parts. The secret operations went on for years before being revealed.
Investigators found legs stuffed with PVC piping of the kind found in hardware stores. An employee said that he had used rolls of socks for the same purpose.
There is talk of an ‘Organ Mafia’ operating in and around the border of the United States and Mexico.
Chinese Harvest: Prisoner Organs
China is another country with a high demand for organ transplants. It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million people are awaiting new organs. Interestingly, due to the predominance of Buddhism and Confucianism in Chinese culture there are very few willing donors in China. In the Chinese belief system, the body must remain whole after death.
Enter prisoner organ harvesting.
Prisoner consent is a major point of contention in China. Prisoners, especially political prisoners, are commonly subjected to physical abuse and even torture. The very notion of a ‘free’ consent loses all meaning when consent could be obtained through the threat or use of violence against a prisoner or a prisoner’s family. Many prisoners in China remain unidentified because they fear that their families will suffer severe repercussions or retaliation be the state. Prisoners are rarely in a position to make informed decision about their bodies. Again, this becomes problematic because, under Chinese law, these individuals become prime targets for harvesting in cases of prisoner executions. Once an unidentified prisoner is executed, authorities can do as they please since the family is unaware or unable to claim the body. In cases where family members are identified, they may receive cash compensation if they agree to give authorization of the body over to the government.
Another key point under Chinese law in regards to prisoner remains is that after death the bodies are mandated to be cremated. As a result, little evidence remains that would indicate organ extraction ever occurred.
Prisoners who are on death row are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of organ harvesting. It is common for doctors to visit the prisoners ahead of time to conduct ‘medical check ups’ a few days before execution. Often times, a prisoner’s donor suitability is being determined but medical staff are not permitted to inform the prisoner of the purpose of the tests.
Medical staff coordinate with hospital staff concerning execution times so that preparations can be made with organ recipients and operating times. This coordination, is unsettling, as the purpose and focus of prison medical staff becomes perverse.
What is even more disturbing is that medical doctors even go so far as to keep the body “alive” after execution in order to remove the organs prior to death so that the transplantation of the
prisoner’s organ is more viable, since a kidney or a liver, for example, must be properly stored within minutes prior to the actual death of the prisoner.
The participation of medical workers is not simply relegated to China. Medical workers and legal experts are required to conduct activities such as child abductions on the US/Mexico border. Forged documents need to be produced along the away and medical staff willing with the skills needed to perform black market organ transplantations need to be recruited.
A final thought on the Chinese prisoner organ harvesting is that, a few years ago, there was an art exhibition called “Bodies Revealed” that toured the world. The exhibit displayed the complete anatomy of human figures displaying the human form minus the skin. I personally saw this exhibit and noted to a friend of mine that these figures all appeared to be of Asian descent.
It turned out that many believe that many people believe that the figures are actual human bodies purchased or obtained from Chinese prisons. It appears that the human trafficking is a lucrative market where the living and the dead, in whole or in parts are traded as commodities on the black market for financial gain.
In conclusion, we often hear people ask “Where are the victims?” and “Where is the evidence?”
Hopefully, some of the details provided in this post make people stop and consider some of the possibilities and implications.
In the Chinese prisoner example, we see that organs are harvested before the bodies are cremated, eliminating evidence. Many prisoners choose not to identify themselves so there is no record of who they are. In addition, society doesn’t seem to care about the plight or treatment of those in incarceration. Furthermore, in the US we have evidence of harvesting that has occurred at funeral homes where random materials are placed inside of cadavers to cover up organ removal.
There's also increasing demand for all types of human body parts, tissue, tendons, bones and even blood that can be sold to medical institutions where there appears to be shortages. Finally, in the case of border abductions, we have what appears to be a network of people who conspire together to forge documents, creating new identities, or misrepresenting the identities of victims. All of the elements mentioned above contribute to there being a lack of physical evidence.
Of course, these are only partial explanations but as more information and evidence emerges the methods of concealment will also slowly be revealed.