Transplant Surgery Abroad
An organ transplant replaces a recipient’s damaged or failing organ with a working one from a donor body. In the case of tissue transplants the donated material can even come from the patients own body.
The most common organ transplants are for the kidney, liver and heart. Other Organs that can be transplanted are the lungs, pancreas, and intestine. Tissue transplants include bones, tendons, cornea, heart valves, veins, and skin.
The driving force for going abroad for organ transplants (or transplantation tourism) is the price. In China a kidney transplant runs around $70,000 compared to possibly $100,000 in the United States, even more savings a heart transplant costs approximately $120,000 in China but can costs upwards of $800,000 in the United States.
While the prices in China have made it one of the leaders of Organ transplant surgeries there are several ethical concerns that have given Organ transplantation surgeries abroad something of a black eye.
China and the Philippines both have illegal organ trafficking networks that feed on “transplantation tourism”. Both the source and method of obtaining the organ to transplant are major ethical issues to consider.
These trafficking networks coerce the poor into selling their organs. In some villages of Pakistan, 40 to 50 percent of the residents have only one kidney. These donors are offered $2,500 for a kidney but receive only about half of that because the middlemen take the rest. The traffickers also prey on the desperate where in Chennai, southern India, about 100 people from poor families of fishermen sold their kidneys after the Indian Ocean tsunami two years ago destroyed their lives. Most of these kidney sellers said that selling their kidneys was a mistake.
Note: China has taken measures to curtail the illegal organ trafficking. Starting on May 1, 2007, doctors involved in commercial trade of organs will face fines and suspensions in China. Only a few selected certified hospitals will be allowed to perform organ transplants. Harvesting organs without donor's consent has also been ruled a crime.