The Market

The black market for buying and selling body organs is nothing new.  The need to bring it to an end is equally familiar.

In order to understand the reality of this market and why it has reached the heights it has, one must consider the global shortage for organs.  Organ transplants are needed on a daily basis and yet there are nowhere near enough donors available.  The demand continues to increase whilst the number of donors and organs available appears to decrease at the same rate, if not faster.  “The expansion of organ transplantation has led to a critical shortage of organs and the development of the organ trade.” [1] This is, obviously, a problem for a variety of reasons, and yet there is no solid/continuous solution as of yet.  Medical professionals are only just beginning to experiment with other options like animal organs and artificial options among other things, but these ideas are experimental/unstable at best.  It will take more time and effort in these arenas in order to prove that some of these experiments are, in fact, viable for humanity’s needs.

Some individuals have argued that legalizing this market would help to minimize the effects of the crisis that leaving it illegal seems to pose.  Others, however, reasonably state that legalizing such activity would only promote coercion and further misuse of the organs, beyond what already occurs to keep the current market afloat.

“…those subject to such coercion would not be able to avail themselves of the legal protections that regulation would afford them” [2]

It is also absolutely necessary to consider the life-changing, and in some cases, life-ending effects of this industry.  The majority of organ-snatching instances that occur are fatal for the victims.  No amount of time in prison for the perpetrator can replace what is lost in these stolen lives.  While certainly there is a large number of instances that are not fatal, the end result for the victims, whether they were coerced, forced, or not, is still forever altering.

The Facts before the Numbers

  • Not all organ-snatching procedures are fatal
  • Fatal procedures are rarely reported as such
  • Not all illegal organ-snatching operations take place due to malicious intent
  • Some patients go “willingly” to have their organs removed (usually via coercion)
  • Money is typically the foremost consideration

  (Yosuke Shimazono, “The state of the international organ trade” WHO, accessed online.)

Although the above charted information is from the early 2000’s, it still gives an incredible glimpse into the magnitude of this heinous trade and market.  Other options for body organ transplant needs should continue to be pursued with utmost care and priority.  Illegal obtainment of these life-giving tissues should not even be considered and thankfully, in recent years there has been more awareness brought to this issue.  Since the market is global and thus very widespread, it is necessary that all involved countries band together and share information/resources to aid in the continued efforts of defeating it.  No amount of coercion/eventual acceptance justifies the act of stealing organs from another human being.

Moving Forward

There is yet hope for a brighter future concerning the black market for body organs.

All things must end and the evil nature of the market for organs is no exception.  More awareness is being brought to the issue as time progresses, and medical professionals are not ceasing their search for other viable options.  The shortage of organs is indeed a crisis, but it is not insurmountable, and certainly, it is no reason to move into illegal activity.  As leading professionals in medicine continue to consider and explore other options, some have even manufactured their own ideas.  For example, one doctor worked on producing “…chimeras with organs transplantable into human beings.” [3]

This industry is deeply complicated and widespread.  It prevails for the most part, despite some efforts/awareness against it.  There is, however, evidence that further awareness and efforts can bring it to an end at last.  It will simply be a matter of time and continued work on the part of those involved.

[1] Yosuke Shimazono, “The state of the international organ trade: a provisional picture based on integration of available information,” WHO, accessed March 18, 2022.

[2] J S Taylor, “Black markets, transplant kidneys and interpersonal coercion,” Journal of Medical Ethics 32, no. 12 (December 2006): accessed March 18, 2022,

[3]  Delbert H. Meyer, M.D., review of Body Bazaar: The Market for Human Tissue in the Biotechnology Age: accessed March 18, 2022.


McCarrick, Pat Milmoe, and Martina Darragh. “Incentives for Providing Organs.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 13, no. 1 (March 2003): 53-64. Accessed March 18, 2022.

Meyer, Delbert H., M.D. Review of Body Bazaar: The Market for Human Tissue in the Biotechnology Age, by Lori Andrews and Dorothy Nelkin. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 8, no. 1 (Spring 2003). Accessed March 18, 2022.;jsessionid=39067003ED6613830FEC361E709B4F2B?doi=

Shimazono, Yosuke. “The state of the international organ trade: a provisional picture based on integration of available information.” WHO. Accessed March 18, 2022.

———. “The state of the international organ trade: a provisional picture based on integration of available information.” SciELO. Accessed March 18, 2022.

Skura, Elyse. “Proposed tax credit for organ donation raises ethical concerns.” CMAJ, 461-62. Accessed March 18, 2022.

Small-Jordan, Dianne. “Organ Harvesting, Human Trafficking, and the Black Market.” The Millennium Report. Last modified November 28, 2017. Accessed March 18, 2022.

Taylor, J S. “Black markets, transplant kidneys and interpersonal coercion.” Journal of Medical Ethics 32, no. 12 (December 2006). Accessed March 18, 2022.

Wilkens, Kimberly. “‘The True Cost of Selling Your Organs on Egypt’ s Illegal Black Market.'” Journal of International Business and Law 17, no. 2 (2018): 267-87. Accessed March 18, 2022.