Der Spiegel: Illegal Organ Trade in Lebanon Flourishing

DerSpeigelSource

Organ donation in Lebanon is one of those taboo things no one really talks/knows enough about, but we’re sure must happen. We’re never asked if we want to be organ donors (until a recent, limited attempt by some NGOs) and chances are we’ve never known someone who needed a transplant and what he/she had to go through to get it. But, plenty of folks need new kidneys and other organs, and our skilled doctors who have even successfully implanted artificial hearts, makes us a top, and affordable destination for thousands of Arabs, especially from the Gulf, that need a transplant.

Of course, like everything else, the government doesn’t care about the illegal trafficking of organs. It’s probably the same old tune we’re all used to: the gangs that operate this dangerous underground trade are probably backed up by the big politicians. Or, simply, legislation isn’t enough to allocate enough resources and hand down a big enough punishment for those committing these heinous crimes.

Here are some highlights of the Spiegel’s piece:

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Lebanon has a tradition of illegal organ trading. The country has immensely rich people and a huge number of people living in poverty. And organ traffickers don’t need to worry about government controls. Those are exactly the ideal conditions for organ trafficking, said Luc Noel, transplant expert at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

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“When it comes to kidneys, we now have far more sellers than buyers,” said Abu Hussein. He added that four of the Big Man’s other recruiters have brokered the sales of 150 kidneys in the past 12 months. According to Abu Hussein, other gangs are doing similarly well.

Experts estimate that 5,000 to 10,000 kidneys are illegally transplanted per year worldwide. “Many of our products go abroad to, for example, the Persian Gulf,” said Abu Hussein. But Big Man also has customers in the US and Europe, he said.

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And the most heart-breaking one was the last sentence, which summed up the plight of all those Syrian refugees forced to sell their kidneys for as low as $7000 like Raid in the Spiegel story…

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But when Raïd asks for painkillers, Abu Hussein shouts at him: “Shut up. I don’t care if you die. You’re finished anyway.”

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It’s a must-read article, and Ulrike Putz’s work is admirable, getting close to those gangs and their victims and getting the story that has been right under everyone’s noses, but went unnoticed as hundreds of refugees went under the knife so their organs can be harvested and sold off to the highest bidder… Sometimes, it seems the hardships and unpleasant truths just never seem to end…

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