Ethical questions increasingly overshadow the science of organ transplantation, writes Ruth De Las Casas
In May 2008 in response to the global problem of organ trafficking, the Declaration of Istanbul was signed at an international summit of nearly 80 countries. It demanded an international ban on organ trafficking and what is termed “transplant tourism.” Meanwhile individual countries struggle to cope with their own organ shortage.
Around the world, demand for organs continues to outstrip supply: in the United Kingdom alone about 400 people die every year while waiting for a transplant. There is an international struggle to increase the availability of donor organs, and it is illegal to pay for human tissue in most countries. Consequently, underground markets in organ trafficking thrive around the world.
The commercialisation of organ donation has been condemned as an unethical and exploitative practice that targets vulnerable people in poor countries. As well as the moral considerations there are physical implications. In countries where the practice is common the