Monday, December 17, 2018

Australia's parliament reports on organ trafficking

Australia's parliament has published a report on organ trafficking in Australia. They didn't find much trafficking there, but recommend that data be more vigorously collected. They report that only one case of (attempted) paid organ donation has come to the attention of the authorities, but that it was successfully prevented, and the intended recipient died. The report ends with a case study of an anatomical exhibit using human cadavers.

Human Rights Sub-Committee, House of Representatives, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, November 2018, Canberra

(The above link is the the 178 page pdf version, and here's a link to the table of contents and each chapter separately).

"This report examines the global prevalence of human organ trafficking and the scope of Australian participation within this illicit trade.
"2.5...The commercial trade in human organs is near-universally prohibited. Despite these prohibitions and restrictions, the illicit commercial trade in human organs has been estimated by the research advisory organisation Global Financial Integrity to be worth between US$840 million and $1.7 billion globally each year.4 Up to 10 per cent of kidney transplants worldwide may now involve commercially traded organs.
"3.15 There has been only one reported case to date of alleged organ trafficking within Australian jurisdiction,
 Alleged case of organ trafficking in Australia
"In 2011, an Australian couple were alleged to have brought a woman from the Philippines to Australia, promising her monetary compensation and a working visa in exchange for a kidney donation.
The woman changed her mind upon arriving in Australia. Medical transplant integrity procedures – a pre-operative counselling session at a Sydney hospital –ensured that the situation was discovered before the removal of the organ.
The potential donor was identified as an alleged victim of organ trafficking, resulting in referral to the Australian Federal Police. Due to the death of the prospective recipient, and limitations of the legislation as then in force, the matter did not progress to prosecution."
"3.20 International studies have observed the tendency of patients born in a country where organ trafficking may occur, but living outside of that country, to be at a substantially higher risk of participation in transplant tourism.31 This would appear to be equally true in Australia, as Dr Campbell Fraser observed: "...less than five per cent of Australians who are waiting on organs are likely to even consider going overseas. ...most of the Australians who have purchased an organ overseas have ethnic family connections to the countries or regions where they buy their organs—Pakistani Australians tended to go to Pakistan, Egyptian Australians travel to Egypt, and so on."
"Mandatory reporting by medical practitioners
3.41 A large number of submissions and witnesses argued in favour of the establishment of a nationwide mandatory reporting scheme for commercial transplants. A Bill before the Parliament of New South Wales, Human Tissue Amendment (Trafficking in Human Organs) Bill 2016, introduced by Mr David Shoebridge MP, seeks to amend the Human Tissue Act 1983 (NSW). The amendment would, inter alia, require medical professionals to report to the NSW Secretary of Health any reasonable belief that a patient has received a commercial transplant or one sourced from a non-consenting donor.
"Case study on alleged human tissue trafficking 
‘Real Bodies’
6.1 The Real Bodies commercial anatomical exhibition, on display in Australia during the course of this inquiry, was brought to the attention of the  Sub-Committee by a number of witnesses and is illustrative of an apparent gap in the current legislation. The Real Bodies exhibition involves the commercial display of 20 plastinated human cadavers, and ‘over 200’ plastinated organs, embryos and foetuses.1
Allegations of the trafficking of organs and other human tissue
6.2Mr David Shoebridge MP of the New South Wales Parliament informed the Sub-Committee as to the nature of the exhibition:...
"[they] are real bodies ... they are displayed in quite grotesque circumstances—some of them literally sawn down the middle and presented as a human standing and divided in two so that you can look into the internal parts of them. There are pregnant women. There are multiple fetuses ... put on display for commercial gain ... it is a grossly exploitative process. The proprietors ... have been asked about the circumstances in which these bodies came into their possession, and they have been unable and unwilling to prove that any of the persons on display ever gave their consent."

Here's an earlier post on repugnance to anatomical exhibits using cadavers:

Saturday, March 28, 2009, Markets for (viewing) bodies

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