UK patients travelling abroad for black market kidneys

According to the Daily Mail, ‘hundreds’ of UK patients are travelling abroad to buy kidneys on the black market, and some are returning with diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Nepal, India, Pakistan and the Philippines are named as source markets.

The article quotes the following figures and sources:

  • The World Health Organisation estimates there are 10,000 black market organ operations a year worldwide.
  • NHS figures show almost 400 UK residents have received follow-up support after a transplant abroad over the past 16 years. The Daily Mail article suggests that the true number is likely to be higher because most patients are advised by brokers not to tell the NHS what they have done.
  • The Council of Europe warned in a report that the ‘booming’ transplant tourism trade is now worth up to £1billion a year and said that ‘trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal and trafficking in human organs are real and growing problems all over the world’.
  • A study by NHS Consultants identified 40 patients in the West Midlands alone who travelled to buy kidneys in Pakistan, India and the Philippines.

The Daily Mail names an international organ trafficker illegally supplying kidneys from Nepalese donors to UK patients. The article says he arranges for British patients to go to India where he has ‘good connections’ with staff at major private hospitals in Calcutta and Delhi. Selling a kidney is illegal in Nepal and India.

The article quotes Fiona Loud, of Kidney Care UK, saying: ‘We have learnt of people coming back to the UK who have had to be treated for all sorts of terrible diseases including HIV because it has not been done properly. Brokers also use Facebook to prey on people who need a transplant. You can understand how people waiting for a kidney for many years get desperate, but buying kidneys overseas is absolutely not the way to do it.’

For a more detailed analysis of the Transplantation sector, visit the IMTJ Topics & Sectors.