The growing black market for body parts in Europe

Belgrade, Serbia — Facing grinding poverty, some Europeans are seeking to sell their kidneys, lungs, bone marrow or corneas…This phenomenon is relatively new in Serbia, a nation that has been battered by war and is grappling with the financial crisis that has swept the Continent. The spread of illegal organ sales into Europe, where they are gaining momentum, has been abetted by the Internet, a global shortage of organs for transplants and, in some cases, unscrupulous traffickers ready to exploit the economic misery.

In Spain, Italy, Greece and Russia, advertisements by people peddling organs — as well as hair, sperm and breast milk — have turned up on the Internet, with asking prices for lungs as high as $250,000…

Organ trafficking is a growth industry,” said Jonathan Ratel, a European Union special prosecutor who is leading a case against seven people accused of luring poor victims from Turkey and former communist countries to Kosovo to sell their kidneys with false promises of payments of up to $20,000. “Organized criminal groups are preying upon the vulnerable on both sides of the supply chain: people suffering from chronic poverty, and desperate and wealthy patients who will do anything to survive.”

The main supply countries have traditionally been China, India, Brazil and the Philippines. But experts say Europeans are increasingly vulnerable.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 kidneys are illegally sold globally each year, according to Organs Watch, a human rights group in Berkeley, Calif., that tracks the illegal organ trade. The World Health Organization estimates that only 10 percent of global needs for organ transplantation are being met…

RTFA. Anecdotal evidence is offered that puts the lie to officials who say this couldn’t possibly be happening in their nation.

History would agree. There is a market for poor people selling their blood in practically every nation in the world. Why act surprised over newer technology, tidier methods enabling the sale of sought-after, more valuable bits of the human body?

The numbers of poor people ain’t exactly diminishing in Europe – or elsewhere in the Industrial West for that matter.

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