European crisis boosts illegal trade in body parts

Jared Yee
BioEdge

The financial crisis in Europe has sparked an increase in the trade of human body parts, as families and individuals scramble to put food on the table. Experts say that the black market for human organs — traditionally based in India, China, Brazil and the Philippines — is spreading to crisis-hit Western countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and poor Balkan nations like Serbia. Vulnerable and impoverished people are trying to sell their kidneys, bone marrow, lungs or corneas, spurred on by the internet, amoral organ traffickers and a global shortfall of organs for transplantation.

A 46-year-old businessman from Piraeus, Greece, said recently that the only way to rescue his family from ending up on the street was to sell one of his kidneys for €100,000, or US$123,000. He told Greek media that he even hired a private investigator to track down a buyer.

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