Cutting Out the Middleman

It’s more dramatic to imagine the organ transplant market getting its supply through murder and state-imposed capital punishment, as in Larry Niven’s stories years ago. But it’s equally logical that what can be taken by force might be sold by its owners voluntarily. And a Berkeley anthropologist says it’s happening all over the world.

By accident or by design, she believed, surgeons in their unit had been transplanting black-market kidneys from residents of the world’s most impoverished slums into the failing bodies of wealthy dialysis patients from Israel, Europe and the United States. According to Scheper-Hughes, the arrangements were being negotiated by an elaborate network of criminals who kept most of the money themselves.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

Organleggers: Predictions Too Tame?

This just in: The nightmares predicted in Sixties science fiction are constantly being surpassed by injustices revealed in the daily news. (OK, so you already know that.)

Larry Niven predicted that organleggers would kill people and harvest their parts to sell to rich patients needing transplants. But he also predicted criminals would be executed so their organs could go into legal transplant banks – not that criminals would be qualified to receive organ transplants at government expense.

Even the conspiracy-minded Norman Spinrad (Bug Jack Barron) did not predict the FBI would facilitate a foreign ganglord’s entry to the country to seek a liver transplant:

UCLA Medical Center and its most accomplished liver surgeon provided a life-saving transplant to one of Japan’s most powerful gang bosses, law enforcement sources told The Times….

The FBI did not help Goto arrange his surgery with UCLA but did help him gain entry to this country, Stern said. The agency had long been frustrated by the reluctance of Japanese law enforcement to share information on yakuza members in the United States.