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Global initiatives to tackle organ trafficking and transplant tourism


The increasing gap between organ supply and demand has opened the door for illegal organ sale, trafficking of human organs, tissues and cells, as well as transplant tourism. Currently, underprivileged and vulnerable populations in resource-poor countries are a major source of organs for rich patient-tourists who can afford to purchase organs at home or abroad. This paper presents a summary of international initiatives, such as World Health Organization’s Principle Guidelines, The Declaration of Istanbul, Asian Task Force Recommendations, as well as UNESCO’s and the United Nation’s initiatives against trafficking of human organs, tissues, cells, and transplant tourism. Beyond the summary, it calls for more practical measures to be taken to implement the existing guidelines and recommendations, in order to prevent exploitation of the poor as organ providers. The paper suggests that an international legally binding agreement in criminalizing organ trafficking would be a step forward to bring a change in the global picture of organ trafficking and transplant tourism.

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Correspondence to Alireza Bagheri.

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Bagheri, A., Delmonico, F.L. Global initiatives to tackle organ trafficking and transplant tourism. Med Health Care and Philos 16, 887–895 (2013).

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  • Organ transplantation
  • Organ trafficking
  • Transplant tourism
  • Istanbul Declaration
  • Asian Task Force
  • International guidelines