NEW: ISHLT Position on the Trafficking of Donor Organs
"Tales from the Organ Trade” and similar documentaries are reminders that organ trafficking remains an important international problem. In line with the previously stated ISHLT position and in concert with other national and international transplantation societies, the ISHLT strongly and emphatically endorses the Declaration of Istanbul which seeks to abolish the illegal and immoral trade in donor organs which is supported in part by so called “transplant tourism”. As a corollary of which, the Society values and supports every effort to improve the availability of donor organs by legitimate process thereby providing community access to these life sustaining therapies.
They link to their 2007 position statement, reproduced here:
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation
Statement on Transplant Ethics
Approved April 2007
Thoracic organ transplantation improves the length and quality of life of patients with severe
heart or lung disease. It is a societal endeavour bound by ethical principles. The donation of
organs from a deceased patient must always be made freely and without coercion. The gift
of an organ by a live donor, such as a pulmonary lobe transplant, must be made in the same
fashion and with informed consent. To ensure that these principles are adhered to, the
transplant process must be transparent, legally regulated and open to both national and
The ISHLT endorses the view of the World Medical Association that the sale of organs from
both live and deceased donors is unethical and violates the Universal Declaration of Human
Obtaining organs for transplantation from the bodies of executed prisoners contravenes the
principle of voluntary donation. A condemned prisoner and his relatives cannot consent
freely. Furthermore, such practices provide a perverse incentive to increase the number of
executions and it lays the judicial process open to corruption.
ISHLT members should discourage patients from seeking transplantation in countries where
transplantation is not open to external scrutiny and the ethical standards of the ISHLT
cannot be assured, regardless of whether payment for organs is involved. ISHLT members
should work with their own governments to ensure that such ‘transplant tourism’ that
contravenes these ethical principles is made illegal.
Members of the ISHLT should not participate in or support the transplantation of organs
from prisoners or the sale of organs for transplantation. Any ISHLT member who has been
found to have contravened this ethical principle may have their rights and privileges as a
member suspended or removed by the ISHLT Board.
Individuals submitting data about clinical transplantation, or the use of human tissue, for
presentation at any of the ISHLT’s meetings, to the Society’s Registry or for publication in
the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation will be asked to sign a personal statement
confirming that the principles of both the Declaration of Helsinki formulated by the World
Medical Association and of this ethical statement by the ISHLT have been adhered to.
Rothman DJ, Rose E, Awaya T, Cohen B, Daar A, Dzemeshkevich SL, Lee CJ, Munro R,
Reyes H, Rothman SM, Schoen KF, Scheper-Hughes N, Shapira Z, Smit H. The Bellagio Task
Force report on transplantation, bodily integrity, and the International Traffic in Organs.
Transplant Proceedings 1997; 29: 2739-45. Also available at the International Committee of
the Red Cross web-site:
F6C (accessed 1st May 2007)
Declaration of Helsinki. http://www.wma.net/e/policy/pdf/17c.pdf (accessed 1st May 2007)