Istanbul Declaration Sees Organ Transplantation Worldwide Threatened by Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism and Commercialism

The Declaration of Istanbul website is under development and will be hosted at http://www.declarationofistanbul.org/

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Together with the International Society of Nephrology (ISN), TTS endorses the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, an important affirmation of ethical principles and practices adopted on May 2, 2008, at an international summit of more than 150 healthcare professionals, officials, scientists, ethicists and legal scholars from 78 countries and 20 international organizations.

Organ commercialism, which targets vulnerable populations (such as illiterate and impoverished persons, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, and political or economic refugees) in resource-poor countries, has been condemned by international bodies such as the World Health Organization for decades. Yet in recent years, as a consequence of the increasing ease of internet communication and the willingness of patients in rich countries to travel and purchase organs, organ trafficking and transplant tourism have grown into global problems. For example, as of 2006, foreigners received two-thirds of the 2000 kidney transplants performed annually in Pakistan.

The Declaration of Istanbul proclaims that the poor who sell their organs are being exploited, whether by richer people within their own countries or by transplant tourists from abroad. Moreover, transplant tourists risk physical harm by unregulated and illegal transplantation. Participants in the Istanbul Summit concluded that transplant commercialism and tourism and organ trafficking should be prohibited. And they also urged their fellow transplant professionals, individually and through their organizations, to put an end to these unethical activities and foster safe, accountable practices that meet the needs of transplant recipients while protecting donors.

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  • Click here to read the commentary by the Lancet