Following the Organ Trail: An Analysis of the Underground Trade in Human Organs and the Factors That Sustain It
AbstractInnovations in the field of transplant medicine have revolutionized our perceptions of the body and our willingness to accept its limitations. Transplantation has become a beacon of light for persons suffering from organ failure. However, most national allocation systems devised to find donor matches lack the capacity to procure enough organs to meet demand. For some of the wealthy and desperate patients left waiting for an organ, purchasing one on the black market becomes a viable solution. The commercial trade in human organs and the proliferation of organ trafficking thrive off of scenarios like these; yet the simple principle of supply and demand that they demonstrate hardly explains how the organ trade has grown into one of the largest global underground economies. This paper examines the other pressing factors that affect the capacity for the trade to flourish, focusing more narrowly on ethical dilemmas, cultural issues, legal infrastructure, and the process of commodification. Utilizing interviews and analyzing literature produced results indicative of an interdependence of given factors and a need to see them in a more comprehensive manner than is currently treated by the existing literature.