Organ transplantation is the most complex and challenging of all surgical procedures, and is successful in saving thousands of lives around the world every year. The most commonly transplanted organ is the kidney, due to the possibility of using live donors, but livers, hearts and many other organs have successfully been transplanted, adding decades of life to otherwise terminally ill patients.
Before the biology behind organ rejection was understood and anti-rejection medicines developed, the possibility of widespread transplantation was widely believed to be unrealistic. But since the first unqualified successes in the 1950s, it has become a standard and widespread practice: one of the great miracles of modern medicine.
The great unsolved problem that still has no clear solution is the tremendous disparity between need and supply. Put simply, there are not nearly enough donors or available organs for the millions of people who urgently need them to survive.
In addition, virtually all countries and many intergovernmental organisations have banned the buying and selling of human organs, an activity widely perceived to be unethical and ripe for exploitation.
This situation has led to a number of diabolical solutions by bad actors. In certain countries with insufficient government oversight (or even unofficial government collusion), organ transplants take place in which foreigners are brought in to receive the organs from highly questionable sources. The recipient pays huge sums of money to the broker and the medical team that performs the operation. The ‘package’ often includes airport pickup and dropoff, hotel and, occasionally, other benefits.
There are often two victims in such an arrangement. Organ recipients are desperate people with a life-threatening illness, typically with just months left unless they receive a transplant. They will often do anything, pay any price, even break any law in order to live. And the organ trafficker knows exactly how to take advantage of them.
The other victim is the donor. That unfortunate soul is typically an impoverished resident of a Third World country. The donor is recruited with an offer of enough money to get out of poverty in exchange for their ‘extra’ kidney. In other cases, particularly in China, organs are harvested from executed prisoners, some of whom are no more than political or religious dissidents. This ghoulish scenario, in which teams of doctors stand by while a person is being killed in order to excise living organs for profit, is, of course, widely condemned.
In such a situation, an unscrupulous broker stands between two desperate people, and he can easily abuse them. Donors often gets far less than what they were promised, and the substandard conditions and lack of after-care often leave them permanently disabled and financially worse off than before, assuming they even survive.
But the recipient is often not any better off either. The operating conditions at black market transplant centers rarely meet international standards of safety, hygiene or skill. And the screening of donor organs for compatibility and disease is often less than thorough, sometimes leaving the patient with a rejected organ, or even infected by AIDS, hepatitis or another serious disease. Add to that the stress of international travel while critically ill, and as you can imagine, the survival and recovery rates for transplant tourism are well below the norm for standard care practices.
Have you or a loved one been the victim of unethical transplant brokers? Aside from the ongoing health problems that it caused, don’t you at least deserve your money back? Unfortunately, the process of opening and winning a chargeback dispute in cases like this is weighed down with an unbelievable amount of bureaucratic red tape. Fortunately, you have someone to help you.
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