February 29, 2024

South Africa: mecca for human organ trade?

Although South Africa has become a linchpin in the world transplant tourism market over the past five years, its government, doctors and hospitals have turned a blind eye to the illegal practice, according to an international expert on organ trafficking, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, of the University of California. Dr Scheper- Hughes told local media that human organ networks were operating throughout the world, with South Africa linked to brokers and doctors in Israel. “South Africa was an excellent solution for them,” she says. “Because of the first-world medical facilities, they could eliminate bringing in their own doctors.”

South African doctors have been hostile to her findings, says Dr Scheper-Hughes. “The networks believe what they are doing is morally and ethically defensible; that people have a right to sell their kidneys. But these people often have no real choice because of poverty and desperation. Putting a market price on body parts exploits the desperation of the poor, mentally weak and dependent.”