NI 472 - Organ trafficking - May, 2014

NI 472 - May, 2014

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Organ trafficking

A note from the editor

Nancy Scheper-Hughes

Follow the bodies

In the early days of the Organs Watch project, when I was first looking into the rumours of ‘body snatching’ and ‘organ stealing’ among shantytown dwellers in northeast Brazil, my husband, then a clinical social worker at a large US paediatric hospital, returned home one evening elated and deeply moved. He had witnessed a paediatric transplant that had saved the life of a mortally ill youngster.

Michael was almost beside himself in sharing the miraculous event. Distracted, I looked up from my writing desk and replied: ‘Really! Whose organ?’ My husband’s anger at my ‘heartless’ question, something only an oddball anthropologist would even think to ask, made me realize that, to the contrary, it was a question that had to be asked.

My naïve question and my equally naïve method – ‘follow the bodies!’ – brought me to police morgues, hospital mortuaries, medical-legal institutes, intensive care units, dialysis units, blood labs and organ banks all over the world. I traced the missing link – the ‘blood diamond’ of the organ trafficking world – the fresh kidneys, which came across borders safely packaged in their warm, living containers. I met the ‘kidney mules’, recruited by brokers in slums, refugee camps and mental institutions, and the outlaw surgeons and traffickers behind the illegal flow of human traffic. This edition of New Internationalist reveals the damage wreaked by the criminal organ trade, and looks at what it might take to combat it.

Elsewhere in the magazine, Amy Hall meets the activists suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the Argument on banning religious methods of slaughter goes behind the clamour of the proposed Danish ban.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

Men from Baseco, a slum in the port area of Manila, the Philippines, show their scars from kidney sales in a photograph from 1999.

Men from Baseco, a slum in the port area of Manila, the Philippines, show their scars from kidney sales in a photograph from 1999.

Photo: Pat Roque/AP/Press Association Images

Perpetual scars

A forensic examination of the persistent problem of trafficking vulnerable people for their organs, and what it would take to stamp it out, by Nancy Scheper-Hughes.

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The slide on the screen showed several skinny, dark Filipino men lined up, displaying their sacred wound, the kidney scar, long as a sabre slice across their convex torsos. More than 150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from 78 countries stared solemnly at the photo during the Istanbul Summit of 2008, the defining moment in the global recognition of human trafficking for ‘fresh’ kidneys. ‘Is this why we began as transplant surgeons?’ one of the convenors, US surgeon Francis Delmonic...




Features

'My heart weeps inside me'

Stories and opinions from those with personal experience of the organ trade.

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Hanneke Hagenaars

‘I am going to get him the liver he needs’

Hanneke Hagenaars, a transplant co-ordinator for deceased organ donors in the Netherlands, speaks about her liaison work with soon-to-be-bereaved families.

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A signpost for the clinic that was the hub for criminal activity.

The Medicus affair

A report from Kosovo on the skullduggery of an international gang of medical criminals and the tortuous road to bring them to justice. By Selvije Bajrami.

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Dear Potential Organ Buyer...

If you think the trade on human organs just needs proper regulation, read Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ exploration of the options.

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Resistance strain: the psychological impacts of activism are seldom discussed.

Beyond burnout

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an occupational hazard for activists on the frontline, says Amy Hall.

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10 reasons to be worried about the trojan treaties

Hazel Healy looks at two monster US-led free-trade deals.

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Regulars

Makhmud Eshonkulov is an experienced freelance cartoonist who grew up in a village in Uzbekistan’s Fergana province but now lives in the capital, Tashkent. He has taken part in many international cartoon exhibitions and won 142 prizes for his work. He was Graphic Artist of the Year in Uzbekistan in 2011.

Open Window: Kaleidoscope

Makhmud Eshonkulov from Uzbekistan with ‘Beautiful World’.

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Letter from Bangui: Unfinished business

Ruby Diamonde visits the Ba-aka forest people to find out about the impact of missionaries.

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Worldbeater: Yahya Jammeh

Paranoid, arrogant, moralistic and intolerant: step forward, Yahya Jammeh.

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Big Bad World - Frack Head

P J Polyp's cartoon for this month looks at the similarities between drug and oil addiction.

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Only Planet - Dreams

Marc Roberts’ Only Planet cartoon.

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Southern Exposure: Tsvangirayi Mukwashi

Tsvangirayi Mukwashi offers an unusual view of Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe.

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And finally: Uri Fruchtmann

The filmmaker and director tells Jo Lateu why he supports activists who expose wrongdoing through video.

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