Fri, Mar 26, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Experts gather to address global ‘transplant tourism’


Moves to combat “transplant tourism,” in which patients from rich countries pay large sums to have organ transplants in poor ones, are gaining pace, experts told an international conference.

The WHO and the EU have led the way in tackling the problem, the Madrid conference on organ donations and transplants heard.

“Stopping the illegal trafficking of organs and ending transplant tourism is an objective shared by all countries,” Spanish Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said.

“The European Union has a harmonized model in which no one puts a price on an organ, and the WHO is making a great effort to spread this model,” she said.

Rafael Matesanz, the head of the Spain’s national transplant organization, said efforts to curb transplant tourism “began in 2005 with the very decisive action of the World Health Organization and the international Transplantation Society to establish laws in the countries where it does not exist.”

Luc Noel, a coordinator for the WTO on the subject, said a “common front” was now emerging in the battle against the practice.

He said that laws against the trafficking of organs had been adopted in five countries considered among the worst offenders: China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Egypt and Colombia.

In all these countries, many poor people sell their livers or kidneys to patients in rich countries in need of them.

Noel said that although organ transplant tourism continued in China, legislation passed there in 2007 had already led to the arrest of a gang of traffickers.

China’s Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu (黃潔夫) said his country had continued to make efforts to address the problem.

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