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Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
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Table of Contents   
ORIGINAL ARTICLE  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 971-976
Organ trade using social networks


1 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences; King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
3 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences; Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Date of Web Publication22-Sep-2016
 

   Abstract 

Organ transplantation is recognized worldwide as an effective treatment for organ failure. However, due to the increase in the number of patients requiring a transplant, a shortage of suitable organs for transplantation has become a global problem. Human organ trade is an illegal practice of buying or selling organs and is universally sentenced. The aim of this study was to search social network for organ trade and offerings in Saudi Arabia. The study was conducted from June 22, 2015 to February 19, 2016. The search was conducted on Twitter, Google answers, and Facebook using the following terms: kidney for sale, kidneys for sale, liver for sale, kidney wanted, liver wanted, kidney donor, and liver donor. We found a total of 557 adverts on organ trade, 165 (30%) from donors or sellers, and 392 (70%) from recipients or buyers. On Twitter, we found 472 (85%) adverts, on Google answers 61 (11%), and on Facebook 24 (4%). Organ trade is a global problem, and yet it is increasingly seen in many countries. Although the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation by-laws specifically prohibits and monitors any form of commercial transplantation, it is still essential to enforce guidelines for medical professionals to detect and prevent such criminal acts.

How to cite this article:
Alrogy W, Jawdat D, Alsemari M, Alharbi A, Alasaad A, Hajeer AH. Organ trade using social networks. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2016;27:971-6

How to cite this URL:
Alrogy W, Jawdat D, Alsemari M, Alharbi A, Alasaad A, Hajeer AH. Organ trade using social networks. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Nov 11];27:971-6. Available from: http://www.sjkdt.org/text.asp?2016/27/5/971/190866

   Introduction Top


The access for a patient to an organ varies between countries but in general depends highly on the availability of donors. Most countries have a formal system responsible to manage the process of organ transplantation. [1],[2],[3] This is mainly done by determining the potential donors and the order of recipients within a waiting list for available organs. However, many patients are on national waiting list for an organ they may never receive, due to the long queues and shortage of deceased donors. A recent report of 2015 showed that in the USA, 122,583 people are on waiting lists for a life-saving organ transplant, 20,704 patients were transplanted, and 10,051 donors were available. [4] This clearly shows that there are not enough organs to meet patients' needs. Human organ trade is an illegal practice of buying or selling organs and is universally sentenced. For several years, several international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe have declared measures to prevent human organ trade. [5],[6],[7] In the year 2008, the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism established a set of principles to guide professional conduct and government policy [8] and Saudi Arabia is a founder cosignatory of the Istanbul Declaration. However, despite the efforts enforced against such practice, it still persists in many countries. It was estimated that around 10% of all transplants may have been done illegally. [9] The reasons for the high occurrence could be due to the lowered safety risks in transplant procedures, easy online accessibility, availability of modern medical technology, and off course the low number organ donors available that fail to meet the actual demand in most countries. The problem with this black market is the safety risk of the illegal operation and the posttransplantation care in addition to the high potential for human abuse and human trafficking. The aim of this study was to search the social media for organ adverts from potential donors (sellers) or recipients (buyers) within Saudi Arabia.


   Materials and Methods Top


The study aimed on searching social media for adverts on organ trade from donors or patients from Saudi Arabia. The search included adverts on Twitter, Google answers, and Facebook using the following terms: kidney for sale, kidneys for sale, liver for sale, kidney wanted, liver wanted, kidney donor, and liver donor. The study was conducted from June 22, 2015 to February 19, 2016. Duplicate adverts were removed, and only one per donor or recipient was accounted for in our results. We ruled out any duplication by comparing the contact information provided in the adverts. For analysis, the searches were categorized according to donor or recipient, organ, and demographics.


   Results Top


We found a total of 557 adverts on organ trade, 165 (30%) from donors or sellers, and 392 (70%) from recipients or buyers. Most of the adverts were on Twitter then Google answers, and Facebook. On Twitter, we found 472 (85%) adverts, on Google answers 61 (11%), and on Facebook 24 (4%).

Advert for human organ donation

In the search results using Twitter, we found a total of 114 potential donors advertising one or two organs, out of these donors 79 (69%) were male, four (4%) females, and 31 (27%) did not specify their gender. Most advertisements did not specify age. The most advertised organ was kidney. The cities were mentioned in 46 (40%) adverts, while 64 (56%) just stated Saudi Arabia. The cities mentioned in the adverts included Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina, and Taif. Forty-one (36%) donors provided contact information (e-mail address and/or phone number) [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographics of donor and recipients who advertised on Twitter.

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Search results using Google answers showed a total of 37 advertisements for potential donors, out of these donors 22 (59.5%) were male and three (8%) females, and 12 (32.5%) did not specify their gender. Moreover, here the most common organ marketed was kidney. All of the donors on Google answers provided contact information [Table 2].
Table 2: Demographics of donor and recipients who advertised on Google answers.

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Search results using Facebook showed a total of 14 advertisements for potential donors, most of them were male marketing a kidney. All except two provided contact information (email address and/or phone number) [Table 3].
Table 3: Demographics of donor and recipients who advertised on Facebook.

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Adverts seeking human organs

In the search results on advertisements for buyers or potential recipients using Twitter, we found 358 people seeking organs. Of these buyers, 155 (43%) were male, 129 (36%) were females, and 74 (21%) did not specify their gender. The kidney organ was the most sought after organ (64%). A total of 245 provided contact information (e-mail address or phone number). The cities were mentioned in 174 (49%) adverts, while 184 (51%) just stated Saudi Arabia. The cities mentioned in the adverts included Riyadh, Jeddah, Madina, Makkah, Dammam, Tabuk, Buraidah, and Taif [Table 1]. Search results using Google answers showed a total of 24 advertisements for potential buyers, out of these buyers 8 (33%) were male, one (4%) females, and 15 (63.5%) did not specify their gender. The kidney organ was sought in 15 (62.5%) and the liver organ in nine (37.5%) adverts. All of the potential buyers provided contact information. The cities were mentioned in nine (37.5%) adverts, while 15 (62.5%) just stated Saudi Arabia. The cities mentioned in the adverts included Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam [Table 2].

Search results using Facebook showed a total of 10 advertisements for potential buyers. All of the adverts sought a kidney, and cities included Riyadh, Jeddah, and Qassim [Table 3].


   Discussion Top


Organ trade is a global problem, and yet it is increasingly seen in many countries. People buy and sell human organs in black markets without much action taken against such crimes. Here in we searched on organ trade in Saudi Arabia, we concentrated on social networks including Twitter, Google answers, and Facebook for adverts specifically targeting human organs for commercial trade. We found 557 adverts on organ trade, 165 (30%) from donors or sellers and 392 (70%) from recipients or buyers.

The question remains how can we prevent organ purchase and who will report such crime? Some people consider donors as offenders where others may look at them more as victims under pressure. In most cases, the source of donors willing to sell their organs is usually a vulnerable population not fully aware of the risks and future health complications they may suffer after the transplant. The selling of their organs is either driven by financial reasons, lack of legal knowledge, misunderstanding, or some kind of enforcement. These donors are unlikely to report any organ trade as they see themselves part of the offense and fear retaliation from individuals involved in such trade.

The buyers of organs are usually seriously ill patients seeking any possible way to obtain an organ disregarding other human beings. Most of these buyers may claim desperation or unawareness of the offense. Again these sellers will not report the crime due to fear of prosecution or criminal judgment. Medical professionals including surgeons, nephrologists, nurses, technical experts, and coordinators are essential in such act and can play a key role for inhibiting illegal transplants. However, due to the ethical obligation physicians owe to their patients, their role in reporting is challenging and complicated. A recent survey describing transplant professionals experience or view on "Reporting Organ Trafficking Networks" revealed that most of the medical staff have a conflict of duties and lack of guidelines.

Some countries have legalized financial compensation for organ donors. This can be argued as a combat for illegal organ trade if controlled under a non-profit legal system. However, will this again target only the poor people in the community? This issue is highly sensitive with much debate. Thus far, there have been no cases of commercial transplantation carried out in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation by-laws specifically prohibit and monitor any form of commercial transplantation. Yet, it is our responsibility to accentuate national legislation for organ trade by providing clear guidelines for medical professionals and increasing public awareness about organ trade perhaps by social networks campaigns.

Conflict of interest: None declared.

The authors have notified the editorial office that the first and second authors are considered as co-first authors and have contributed equally in the preparation of the manuscript.

 
   References Top

1.
Jafar TH. Organ trafficking: Global solutions for a global problem. Am J Kidney Dis 2009;54: 1145-57.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]    
2.
Available from: http://www.uniformlaws.org/Act.aspx?title=Anatomical%20Gift%20Act%20%282006%29. [Last visited on 2015 December 25].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/30/contents. [Last visited on 2015 December 25].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Available from: http://www.optn.transplant.hrsa.gov. [Last visited on 2015 December 25].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Caplan A, Domínguez-Gil, B, Matesanz R. Trafficking in Organs, Tissues and Cells and Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of the Removal of Organs: A Joint Study of Council of Europe and United Nations; Strasbourg, France: Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs Council of Europe; 2009.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
European Union. European Union 210. Directive 2010/53/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 July 2010 on Standards of Quality and Safety of Human organs Intended for Human Transplantation. Available from: http://www.eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:207:0014:0029:E:PDF. [Last accessed on 2015 September 01].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
WHO. WHO Guiding principles on human cell, tissue and organ transplantation. Transplantation 2010;90:229-33.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
The declaration of Istanbul on organ trafficking and transplant tourism. Indian J Nephrol 2008; 18:135-40.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Delmonico FL. The implications of Istanbul declaration on organ trafficking and transplant tourism. Curr Opin Organ Transplant 2009;14: 116-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
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Correspondence Address:
Ali H Hajeer
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh 11426
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/1319-2442.190866

PMID: 27752006

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