REPORT – Refugees : Survive by Selling its Own Organs (SOS)



The new acronym that will revolutionize global health.

Underground markets run by organ brokers and kidney hunters exploit the desperation of both buyers and sellers.

Even regulated systems, such as the ones established by the Ministries of Health in the Philippines and in Iran, rely on independent “match makers” and intermediaries.

The result is the collaboration of surgeons and hospitals with local “kidney hunters” who are unregulated and play their trade based on deceit and exploitation.

Hospitals and transplant teams cannot be left with the responsibility of monitoring the paid donation of living people’s organs.

Even governments that have attempted to regulate kidney selling have proposed exploitative means — granting visas to undocumented day-laborers and promising work to economic and political refugees in exchange for kidneys.

Those are some examples of concrete facts :


The bodies of nine Somalis, including a mother and her two children, washed up on beach in Alexandria, Egypt, recently — all of them missing vital organs.

Investigations reveal the nine Somalis, whose organs were harvested and their bodies dumped in the Egyptian sea later, were originally lured on to a migrant boat, which they were told was heading for Italy.

Instead, the ferry took them to an undisclosed location in Alexandria, where they were locked up for organ removal.

Horrors like these, though unfortunate, are not a rarity in many poor countries.

The Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions, a nonprofit health and human-rights organization, previously released a report about the horrific underworld trade that affects thousands of immigrants hailing from Sudan, Jordan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria and Iraq.

Many of these refugees are sent to Western countries on a ruse for the express purpose

A young man Syrian refugee named Raïd, shown here, recently sold his kidney as part of a growing illegal organ trade in Lebanon.

Lebanon has a tradition of illegal organ trading.

The country has immensely rich people and a huge number of people living in poverty. And organ traffickers don’t need to worry about government controls.

Those are exactly the ideal conditions for organ trafficking, said Luc Noel, transplant expert at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Every year, tens of thousands of rich Arabs from around the region come to Beirut for treatment in the country’s excellent hospitals.

The authorities don’t pay attention whether a patient flies home with a new nose — or with a new kidney.

Previously, it was mostly destitute Palestinians who sold their organs.

Then came the war in Syria, and then the refugees. Now the groups are in competition and the prices are falling.

Raid : said he’s employed by a gang that works in the human organ trade – specializing in kidneys. The group’s business is booming.

About one million Syrians have fled into Lebanon because of the civil war in their home country and now many don’t know how they can make a living.

In their distress, they sell their organs.

It’s a dangerous and, of course, illegal business.

That’s why the gang has its operations performed in shady underground clinics.

Abu Hussein’s boss is known in the poor areas of Beirut as “Big Man.”

Fifteen months ago, Big Man gave the 26-year-old a new assignment: find organ donors.

The influx of Syrian refugees from the war, Abu Hussein’s boss argued, made it more likely people would be willing to sell organs.

“When it comes to kidneys, we now have far more sellers than buyers,” said Abu Hussein. He added that four of the Big Man’s other recruiters have brokered the sales of 150 kidneys in the past 12 months.

According to Abu Hussein, other gangs are doing similarly well.

Experts estimate that 5,000 to 10,000 kidneys are illegally transplanted per year worldwide.

“Many of our products go abroad to, for example, the Persian Gulf,” said Abu Hussein.

But Big Man also has customers in the US and Europe, he said.

This year month, Turkish authorities arrested a suspected international kidney broker, Boris Wolfman, who was allegedly recruiting desperate Syrians from refugee camps and detention to sell a kidney in exchange for legal protection.

Asylum seekers are selling their kidneys so they can pay to get on a boat to Australia, a News Corp investigation into the illegal organ trade has found.

Syria – The illegal trade in human organs has become widespread in Syria and neighboring countries, medical officials and victims say, with cross-border networks exploiting thousands of desperate Syrians.

These networks purchase transplantable organs such as kidneys and corneas from Syrians and ship them to neighboring countries, where they disappear into the murky world of the international organ trade, they say.

There are also allegations that organs have been stolen from prisoners.

And terror group ISIS is organising for Syrian refugees to sell their organs to get their family passage into Europe.

A three-year News Corp investigation has found almost 100 desperate Australians have paid to have an illegal transplant overseas because demand for organs here outstrips supply.

The unregulated trade is seeing prisoners shot on demand to supply human organs and poor people forced by debt collectors to sell their kidneys for as little as $1,000 while doctors involved charge up to $250,000 per transplant.

Only six million Australians have registered to donate their organs when they die and News Corp is campaigning to get millions more Australians to register to stifle the illegal trade in organs.

This risk facing Australians who turn to the black market has become very grave and now Griffith University academic Campbell Fraser has found terrorists are involved in the trade.

Dr Fraser who has interviewed 1,000 people who have bought and sold organs says attempts to close down the trade in human organs has pushed up the price of illegal transplants to over $100,000.

“This has made the profits large enough to attract the interest of terrorists, people smugglers and organised crime figures,” he says.

As part of our investigation into the illegal organ trade, News Corp visited Chennai in India where we found refugees were selling their kidneys to get to Australia.

Sri Lankan refugee advocate Samuel Chandrahasan has confirmed refugees are selling their organs to get to Australia

Sri Lankan Refugee advocate Samuel Chandrahasan says around 500 Sri Lankan refugees have sold their organs in the last three years to help cover the $3,000 bill to get to Australia by boat.

“Men and women have been exploited and they are cheated … and this is most offensive,” he told News Corp.

“No-one in the refugee camps has been involved but (refugees) outside have been victimised.

“The people who get involved in this people smuggling effort become indebted and their families left behind have enormous problems they face having to pay back the loans,” he says.

Mr Chandrahasan says the refugees are taken to hospitals in Colombo where their kidneys are removed.

A Sri Lankan refugee photographed in Chennai, India, who knew of refugees selling organs to get to Australia. 

“The numbers are close to a few hundred over a period of three years.”

News Corp has spoken to doctors in Sri Lanka who confirm there is a booming trade in organ trafficking in that country with up to 13 doctors involved.

Doctors trying to close down the trade have received death threats.

News Corp interviewed six Sri Lankan refugees living in India who said they were aware of fellow refugees who had sold their kidneys to get to Australia.

“I have heard and seen people donate a kidney in the camp,” a 42 year old mother living in a refugee camp told News Corp.

“For their children they will do whatever they can do to get to Australia.”

It’s estimated around 1,000 foreigners from Israel, Malaysia, the Maldives and other countries are travelling to Sri Lanka each year to buy a human organ and have it transplanted.

Sri Lankan doctors are making lots of money, up to $60,000 per transplant, and the operations are taking place in private hospitals.

Sri Lankan refugees in Chennai, India, who also know of refugees selling organs to get to Australia.

Sri Lankan authorities are turning a blind eye because they share in some of the payment, News Corp has been told.

“Organ sales are rife in Sri Lanka, it’s a cesspit,” says Professor Jeremy Chapman the head of the International Transplantation Society dedicated to ending organ trafficking.

Dr Fraser has compelling evidence that Syrian refugees from the ISIS controlled Yarmouk Refugee Camp are selling their organs to get a passage to Europe.

The involvement of people traffickers in the business has seen a 500 per cent increase in the price of an illegal transplant.

The price for an illegal organ transplant used to be $20,000 to $30,000, now its $100,000.

“All the organ sellers in Egypt are coming from the refugee camps,” says Dr Fraser says.

“What IS is doing is if refugees want to go to Europe, if they don’t have enough money they are given the option of selling a kidney.

“That serves as a passage to Europe for five family members. The family gets no money and the traffickers sell the kidney for $60,000,” he told News Corp.

In 2008 organ donors in Egypt came from all over the world but since 2012 they have come almost exclusively from Syria, only 12 of the 118 donors he interviewed from 2013 were not from Syria, his data shows.

Dr Campbell Fraser knows about Australians going overseas for illegal organ transplants. 

In Egypt the illegal organ transplants are almost always done in small clinics, often abortion clinics, in Cairo and Alexandria, they usually do the surgery in Friday the holy day.

Dr Fraser’s work has attracted the interest of the FBI, the Transnational Crime and Terrorism Centre in Washington, Interpol and police forces around the world who are concerned the proceeds from the organ trade may be funding terrorism.

“We’re a victim of our own success,” he says.

“The advances the good guys have made have closed a lot of businesses and the price has gone through the roof, there is now enough profit to pay the surgeon and still make a profit and its totally changed the game, we’ve inadvertently created a monster,” he said

“Before the surgeons were in control now they are working for organised crime bosses,” he says.


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