Commentary in The Lancet on the Declaration of Istanbul Sees Organ Transplantation Worldwide Threatened by Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism and Commercialism

    BOSTON, MA, July 3 /CNW/ - The July 5 issue of the leading medical
journal, The Lancet, highlights 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. A
Commentary, authored by the 32-member Steering Committee of the Istanbul
Summit, describes how the policies advocated by the Declaration will help to
combat the trafficking of people as a source of human organs for
transplantation, and the transplant tourism which depends on organ sales and
undermines countries' efforts to meet the health needs of their own
populations. The commentary and the declaration are available at the following
Multimedia News release link, please click:
    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.
    The Commentary points out that countries from which transplant tourists
originate, as well as those to which they travel to obtain transplants, are
just beginning to address their respective responsibilities to protect their
people from exploitation and to develop national self-sufficiency in organ
donation. The authors expect that the Declaration will reinforce the resolve
of governments and international organizations to develop laws and guidelines
to bring an end to wrongful practices. "The legacy of transplantation is
threatened by organ trafficking and transplant tourism. The Declaration of
Istanbul aims to combat these activities and to preserve the nobility of organ
donation. The success of transplantation as a life-saving treatment does not
require - nor justify - victimizing the world's poor as the source of organs
for the rich."
    The Declaration of Istanbul has been endorsed by The Transplantation
Society and the International Society of Nephrology, which sponsored the
Summit meeting.

For further information:

For further information: Questions regarding the Commentary should be
addressed to: Dr. Francis Delmonico, Mobile: (617) 413-5311, Email:; Dr. Jeremy Chapman, Mobile: +61-419-751-656,
Email:; Dr. Mohamed Sayegh, Mobile: (617)
901-1058, Email:; Dr. Adeera Levin, Mobile: (604)
724-3558, Email:; Prof. Alexander Capron,
Mobile: (310) 998-7902, Email:

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