Organ trafficking: global solutions for a global problem.
The organ trafficking market is on the rise worldwide. Numerous unfortunate stories of networks of brokers, physicians, and hospitals engaged in illegal trade have been featured in high-profile media. The profitable enterprises facilitating these unregulated services exploit the poor in underresourced countries and offer substandard medical care with unacceptable outcomes to the rich recipients. Despite efforts to boost altruistic organ donation and resolutions to curb transplant tourism, their implementation has been compromised. At the same time, the worldwide escalation in the number of patients with kidney failure coupled with a shortage in the supply of organs continues to fuel this trade. Thus, measures to enhance the donor pool in well-resourced countries to meet their own needs will act as a strong deterrent to the proliferation of transplant tourism in impoverished nations. Regulated schemes that include reimbursement for removing potential disincentives to organ donation and ensure the long-term safety of donors and their families are likely to increase living donations. Such socially responsible programs should be tested in both developed and developing countries for their own populations. It also is vital that developing countries establish a regulated, standardized, and ethical system of organ procurement; create awareness in physicians and the public; upgrade facilities and standardize medical care; and enforce legislation for transplantation. The World Health Organization, National Kidney Foundation, and international transplant and nephrology societies can have an instrumental role in facilitating initiatives in these critical areas. There should be clearly defined codes of conduct for health care facilities and professionals' roles in unregulated paid organ donations and transplants. Ultimately, physicians and transplant surgeons have the responsibility to ensure to the best of their ability that the organs they transplant were obtained upholding the highest standards of ethics.
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