Organ Trafficking: Human Crisis in Thailand and Other Countries

Organ Trafficking: Human Crisis in Thailand and Other Countries

Introduction

        Human trafficking is a criminal problem that many governments around the globe have faced for about 20 years. The USA even issued a law about human trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), in order to raise awareness about worldwide human trafficking issues. Human trafficking has various forms. Some that usually create problems are sex trafficking, slavery, grooming, beggars, and organ trafficking. These endeavors depend on the economic state and demands of the black market. The growths vary in each region. The real issue is that human trafficking is not widely interested and emphasized. It is just discussed in the network of medical staff.

            Human trafficking has endangered society for a long time. In Thailand, there are no prevention measures and specific laws about this kind of crime, although Thailand might be a large market or a huge depot, or even a hub of organ trafficking. Lawmakers don’t put emphasis on measures that prevent or suppress human trafficking in Thailand.

            When the present state of the economy is in turmoil and poverty greatly affects the economy, many citizens lose their jobs due to the closure of various companies and factories. These issues start from an inability to deal with the worsening state of the economy and AI replacing human labour. AI offers convenience, precision, and cost-saving aspects, then manufacturers replace their employees with the AI that has better capabilities.

            This problem leaves lots of people jobless. With their burdens, some struggle to make ends meet and take care of their families. They can end up crossing the boundaries by committing petty crimes such as theft, embezzlement, and mugging. They choose to forget their humanity for their survival. Some of them fall into the network of crimes like dealing with the drug trade, and others start selling their organs for money. Organ trafficking earns lots of quick cash. Unsurprisingly, poor countries or overcrowded countries such as India, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, and China face human trafficking, and their tendencies get higher every year.

            Types of worldwide organ trafficking

            This article collects data about the current situations of organ trafficking in Thailand and other countries. The statistics of organ trafficking, demands from each country, pricing in the black markets, and laws related to organ trafficking will be thoroughly explored and discussed.

Illegal organ trafficking has two types. Firstly, organs are harvested from recently dead people. Secondly, they are harvested from living humans. The first type can be either from donation or theft as well as the second type.

            People can sell their organs for their families or personal goals. Another misdeed is organ theft which is one of the most committed crimes and involved human trafficking such as kidnapping, fraud, and illegal organ trade by medical staff. These people secretly steal organs from patients that receive operation or remove organs without consent. People always ask why organ trafficking becomes involved with black markets. The pricing range in black markets might be explicit answers. The pricing is referenced by the website, Futurism, as follows. The pricing is converted to baht and sorted by the highest prices.

Table of Organ Prices in Black Markets

1 Lung             9,248,000 Baht

1 Kidney          4,715,000 Baht

1 Liver             4,658,000 Baht

1 Cornea         673,000 Baht

1 Bone             224,000 Baht

1 Ligament      163,000 Baht

1 Litre of Blood  21,420 Baht

1 Inch of Skin          270 Baht

           

            From this table,  the top highest price organs are lungs, kidneys, and livers. These three are very popular and easy to sell due to the fact that a human can lose one kidney and still survive normally. However, this is just partially right, the consequences are really demanding. A person with one kidney needs special care, routine checkups, and a healthy lifestyle due to only one working lung. If a person decides to sell their kidney, they should consider and educate themselves first. If the risks are not worth their sacrifices, they should refrain from selling their organs. The long-term consequences are really dangerous.

            The EU congress discussed human trafficking in one of their meetings in order to issue acts to deal with this crime and educate their fellow citizens. On 18th June 2015, they publicly released the policy. It contained the statistics about organ trafficking by each country which include donating countries and buyer countries.

            The majority of the donors gain 480 US dollars (15,758.40 baht) per year which is considered low compared to the receivers or buyers. They gain 53,000 US dollars (1,739,990  baht) per year. This is unsurprising that organ trafficking is quite imminent in black markets. Many mafias or doctors decide to get involved with this crime thanks to high pay legal loopholes in some countries. Organ trafficking business is considered worsening the poor but providing longevity to the rich.

            WHO estimated that human trafficking would see a rise due to high demands from buyers which are quite more than sellers. For example, 90,000 livers were in need but there were 21,000 transplanted livers each year. In some countries, organ trading is outlawed, but these people use legal loopholes to continue their activities. International organizations requested cooperation between countries to prevent organ trafficking or issue specific laws. Organ trafficking is not only immoral but also corrupted. The profits partially go to the sellers. The merchants usually abuse and embezzle them. In Africa, a seller receives 700 US dollars for one kidney, however a buyer from the USA needs to pay 30,000 US dollars for one kidney.

This trick for little money may attract people who really need fast money. They do not think it through about risks and consequences. They are also prone to fraud and embezzlement.

Organ Trafficking Situations in China

Kidney for iPhone

            China is one of the countries that have much power in the world economy. While it has many rich citizens, some are relatively poor due to overpopulation and enormous gaps of inequality. In modern times, workers are less needed, and they are likely to be replaced by machines and robots leading to any jobless people and unemployment. Fresh graduates also struggle to survive and thrive.

One of the most alarming issues is that the technology industry affects lifestyles, attitudes, and cultures of people. Chinese teenagers were chasing new phones and tablets like their Western counterparts. Whether they were newly released iPhones or top tiered Android devices, they represented social statuses and wealth. Some teens were too obsessed, and they paid with their organs. The merchants and dealers then seize these opportunities. They contacted the teenagers and lured them to trade organs for money.

            There was an unfortunate case in 2011. A 17 years old teen sold his kidney to an illegal gang to acquire enough money for a 4th gen iPhone. Nearly a year later, the police caught five involved culprits. They confessed that they traded organs in black market for a long time and dealt with at least 10 customers. Ultimately, the court that was responsible for this case demanded 2.27 million yuan for the victim’s compensation. The victim suffered from kidney failure due to having only one working kidney. He needed money for subsequent treatment.

The reason that organs were highly demanded was lack of organs for transplant. There were about 1.5 million patients waiting for organ transplant each year. These merchants just exploited their suffering from both sides. This incident sparked the issue about consumerism in China. This issue involved unnecessary possessions that made many Chinese teenagers become desperate victims. Even though the government tried to find substitution by forcing death row inmates to donate their organs, the lack of organs didn’t cease.

Coercing Death Row Inmates for Organ Donation

            Due to the human organ crisis, China issued a policy that forced every death row inmate to willingly donate their organs to the government organ bank after their execution whether they gave their consent or not. Although 2 out of 3 donated organs were from these inmates, they were not enough for patients waiting for organ transplant. Later, China decided to cancel the policy and only accepted organs from willful inmates in order to prevent human rights issues and complaints from other countries. This act was issued in November 2013.

            Aside from these controversies, there was another harrowing news. A 6 years old child was abducted and taken his eyes out. Then he was left near his last whereabouts. A citizen found him bloodied and suffered, and the boy was sent to hospital. There was a belief that organs from children could be sold for higher prices, and their quality would be higher as well. This brutal act reflected the severity of the organ trafficking issue which could lead to the rise in black markets.

Organ Trafficking Situations in Pakistan

            Without human trafficking laws, Pakistan becomes one of the largest kidney markets in South Asia thanks to cost-saving transplant. This attracts many tourists to get transplant there. They don’t have to wait for long.

Various private hospitals receive kidneys from local donors. Subsequently, their organs are transplanted to the wealthy customers from Saudi Arabia, England, and Canada. Pakistan had no laws about human trafficking like its neighboring  country, India. Therefore, it became a tourist trap for organ transplant. Bangladesh face similar issues due to its lack of laws covering organ trafficking.

            A director of a kidney hospital in Pakistan claimed that buying kidneys from willful donors was not an immoral act, conversely this was an act of kindness that could save people from poverty. Fellow practitioners disagreed with this claim. They thought this act caused unrest in society and violated the moral code. It was also dehumanizing and crime. If these doctor explained about the consequences of cutting organs off and selling them, many citizens would not contact private hospitals to sell their organs.

Poverty and other economic issues forced these people to sell their organs as their last resort. They misunderstood that their kidney could regrow after being harvested. They also suffered from harsh work conditions that greatly affected their health in a long run. Moreover, additional care fees were higher than the price of their organs.

            The cost of one kidney transplant in Pakistan was roughly 9,000 US dollars while the foreigners had to pay 12,000 US dollars (about 4 million baht) which was quite cheap compared to the USA counterpart. In the USA, the procedure was about 262,000 US dollars (8,601,460 baht). Unsurprisinhly, Pakistan was the destination for people who needed organ transplant.

           

            Another alarming issue in Pakistan was kidnapping for organ harvest. In May 2007, the police caught nine people suspected for stealing kidneys from victims. Four of these culprits were doctors. Then, the government prepared to draft an act that prevent organ trafficking but power figures intervened due to conflicts of interest. Today, there is still no law against organ traffcikng in Pakistan.

Organ Trafficking Situations in Egypt

            If one need organ transplant in Egypt, there are two choices. First of all, donors have to to be from the same bloodline. The foreigners are eligible but they must give their organs to people with same nationality. Secondly, organs are harvested from deceased people or brain dead people. The latter is an appopriate and logical choice due to no health risks for donors. However, it requires official authorization from hospitals and Al-Azhar Center.

There were several issues about organ donation in Egypt thanks to the traditional belief about rituals and human preservation after death. Ancient Egyptians often mummified corpses to preserve bodies and organs. They believed that the soul would reincarnate in their former bodies. Many modern Egyptian still believe in this practice, and they do not support organ donation.

            Moreover, Egypt forbades paying for organ donation in order to prevent commercial purposes. There are few illegal operations in Egypt. From a WHO report in 2010, Egypt was one of the five largest organ trafficking hubs in the world. This issue combined with superstition about mummification hindered the progress of organ donation.

Organ Trafficking Situations in Thailand

            The situation in Thailand was not widely acknowledged due to little interest from the public and supporting laws. There were just discussions about ethics and moral code. Thailand was known as the new market for international organ trafficking from the illegal deals between Thai and Cambodia in news coverage. Thailand might become the next hub of organ trafficking in the forseelable future.

            From the case of a Cambodian man that went to Thailand to sell his organs at a private hospital in Bangkok, he intended to pay off debts for his family. This incident was the first case of the Cambodian in Thailand. Two brokers were eventually caught. It caused unrest among both Thai people and Cambodian people. They feared that there would be more cases. Selling organs could bring fast cash, and it showed that many wealthy people needed new organs from the unfortunate. The sellers usually forgot to think about long-term consequences and illegal activities. Many Thai people still openly sell their organs on websites and public blogs.

           

            There were many debates about organ trafficking. Some thought this act was fine as long as every involved party gave their consent. Others argued that this act for money was against order and morals. Estimating health of the poor as a sum of money was highly inappropriate. It was revealed that a private hospital in Bangkok share info about safety and advancement of organ trafficking. Moreover, this hospital had  the highest number of organ transplant in Thailand. The origins of donors were not accessible and somewhat questionable.

Thai Laws and Organ Trafficking

            In the perspective of law, basically organ trafficking can be sorted into two types, civil and commercial. By these standards, people have the right to sign any contracts based on freedom. Their acts will not be prohibited as long as they don’t violate Section 150. Organ trade is against morals and human rights, hence this act is nullified. It also violates Section 150.

            Furthermore, the procedure to harvest organs violates the law due to its conflict against the criminal law. This section states that causing damage to bodies and health is forbidden. Causing harm to any corpses is also an act of damaging posessions. Operating on corpses is an intentional act that damages corpses. It harms and violates posessions.      

Preventive Measures

            When demand is greater than supply, organ trafficking in inevitable. Crimes about organ trafficking includes corpse theft, kidnapping for organs, stealing organs from checkups. Some people just kill people for organs. Illegal deals could lead to lots of quick cash. This act became tantalizing for some criminals. Organ trafficking is a new type of crime that should not be ignored. Both the government and the private sectors shall team up to find solutions.

 It may begin with materialism and capitalism. Giving info about health is appropriate. Citizens should know about drawbacks and disadvantages of selling out their organs, long-term consequences, and tricks be illegal rings. Next, there should be laws or regulations about organ trafficking. The punishment should be servere so that people would not risking committing crime.

Conclusion

            Organ trafficking is a crime in the advanced and modernized world. Economic issues become the main reason that lead to crime. Capitalisim inavertly damages society on the whole. Technology and materialism replace culture and moral. Money is the drive and the motivation for money people to commit misdeeds and crime against others. The public, the government, and the private sectors should be awared of these issues. Academic institutions shall educate people to have literacy about new waves of crime. Reinforcing appropriate and advanced mindsets is also important. The common goals to push our country forward will help us overcome these issues too.

Reference

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บันทึกนี้เขียนที่ GotoKnow โดย  ใน Trynh Phoraksa(Ph.D.)-Criminologist



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