April 14, 2024

Illegal organ market survives in Russia

Transplant operation in Russia (Moscow News)

After a year-long investigation, four Moscow doctors were arrested this week for plotting to murder a patient to supply a flourishing illegal trade in human organs. The case emerged when a 51-year-old man was taken to a hospital in April last year suffering from serious head injuries. Although Russian law stipulates that a person must be “biologically dead” before organs are removed, the man’s heart was still beating and none of the required certifications had been obtained. As a result of this and other scandals, a moratorium on organ transplants was declared which lasted for several months.

Although the moratorium has now been lifted, trading does not appear to have stopped. Earlier this month, doctors in Khabarovsk, in Russia’s Far East, were accused of removing organs from deceased patients without asking for permission form relatives and channelling the fees for the operation through three companies. The price for an organ allegedly ranged from about US$60 to $40,000. The local health ministry has denied the allegations and says that it will sue the public prosecutor for defamation.