A 30-year-old thief in jail has become the first Romanian charged with organ trafficking, even though he was a donor, not a buyer. Robert Mihaly was charged after a prison doctor discovered that his kidney had been removed. An investigation found that he had sold it in 2001 for more than US$18,000 to an Austrian man. The records of the transplant clinic of Vienna General Hospital Mihaly describe him as a “relative donor”. Police are trying to find out whether he was part of an organ trafficking ring.
Romania is one of the poorest countries in Europe and has one of the highest rates of live organ donations and the lowest of cadaver donations in the world. “Maybe it is because Romanians are a generous group of people,” says Victor Zota, the head of the National Transplant Agency. “This is not a negative fact since we are saving lives. It is the prosecution services’ and police’s job to see if anyone is doing this for money,” he told The Lancet.
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