Also Known as Organ Harvesting and Transplant Tourism

Range of criminal activities, including illegal organ harvesting from a living or dead individual and the illegal sale and transplantation of human organs.
Organ trafficking is the practice of stealing or buying organs through exploitation to be sold on a black market for profit, and transplant tourism is traveling to another country for the purpose of buying, selling, or receiving organs.

Information suggests a wide spectrum of actors are involved in organ trafficking in North and West Africa with connections to the medical sector in countries from Africa and beyond, notably in Asia and the Middle East.

Organ Trafficking can be done only in the framework of complex networks, due to the required skills (medical specialists, surgeons, nurses), logistics (matching compatible patients and donors), and healthcare facilities (analytical laboratories, clinics, operating rooms)


Individuals who sell or otherwise provide organs for the illegal trade may be

  • deceased persons who did not consent to the use of their organs, or individuals who are killed for their organs;
  • living persons who do not consent to the use or harvesting of their organs or are coerced, including by threat of force or offers for payment that take advantage of economic duress; or
  • living persons who consent to sell an organ (in some cases, such individuals may be misled about the nature of the medical procedure and recovery).

Kidneys are the most trafficked organ worldwide because a patient or donor can survive with only kidney. It is estimated that approximately 7,000 kidneys are harvested and trafficked illegally each year.

“Organized criminal groups profit from the desperation of the unemployed, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to coerce them into selling an organ. Victims of human trafficking for sexual and labour purposes also find themselves at additional risk.

The techniques used for the recruitment and control of the victims are the same as those used for other types of human trafficking, such as promises of job opportunities abroad, as well as the use of threats and violence.

Most often, victim-donors receive a smaller amount of the money than had been agreed with the recruiter or broker, and in some cases they may not get any of the promised payment. Many victim-donors have suffered post-operative complications and health issues.

The socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to fuel    Trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal (THBOR -is one of the most coercive, exploitative forms of the human organ trade) as it will likely be easier for brokers to coerce vulnerable individuals to sell an organ to improve their economic conditions. This is exacerbated by the fact that legal organ donations, and therefore transplants, have suffered major decreases since the outbreak of COVID-19

Then currently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has plundered the people there into total desperation in every aspect and many are becoming refugees which worstens the situation and becuase of the desperations presented they are now vulnerable to predators who will exploit their vulnerabilities to recruit victims into all forms of trafficking.

World Health Organization (WHO) Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue, and Organ Transplantation

live donations should occur with the donor’s informed and voluntary consent and that donors should be provided professional medical care (Guiding Principle 3),

• cells, tissues, and organs should be donated, not sold, and that sales should be prohibited, though compensation for donations is permitted (Guiding Principle 5), and

• health professionals should not engage in, or provide insurance coverage for, transplantations that involved “exploitation or coercion of, or payment

The safe and legal way of donating organs is to choose to become an organ donor.  In South Africa should you wish to become an organ donor, you can contact the Organ Donor Foundation on 0800 226 611. in persons for the purpose of organ removal (THBOR) is one of the most coercive, exploitative forms of the human organ trade.





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