Organ transplantation is an invaluable method practiced by many countries in order to save the lives of thousands of patients. While there exist legal means of obtaining an organ for transplantation, such as volunteer and deceased organ donorship, they have several disadvantages for individuals in urgent need of a transplant. In particular, legally regulated donorship entails long waiting lists for the patients who outnumber the population of donors. Indeed, according to the statistical data, “the US transplant waitlist numbers roughly 115 000 people” (Ward et al., 2018, p. 337). Furthermore, as a result of the waiting time, such legal donation means lead to many deaths.
Consequently, due to a large number of organ failures in multiple patients and scarce sources of transplants, there is a globally identifiable gap between the demand and supply of human organs for transplantation. According to the World Health Organization bulletin on the issues, “the shortage of an indigenous “supply” of organs has led to the development of the international organ trade, where potential recipients travel abroad to obtain organs through commercial transactions” (Shimazono, n. d., para. 3). Thus, the black market strives globally since people from privileged communities seek ways to obtain organs for transplantation regardless of their source.
The issue of significant concern is the threat of criminal human organ trafficking imposed on vulnerable populations who disproportionately suffer from organ trade. In particular, people from underprivileged communities are in a particularly vulnerable position since traffickers exploit the poor’s vulnerability and the lack of protection from being subject to forced organ donation. Indeed, “the poor who are deceived into selling their organs” or forced to donate their organs due to the oppression have diminished opportunities for legal recovery (Oladehinde, 2019).
As a result, victims of organ trafficking are unprotected and underserved in regard to the health outcomes after transplantation, psychological trauma, and the threat of death. These adverse outcomes of organ trafficking victimization are validated by research findings that indicate that while organ transplantation is beneficial for the health of recipients, it is particularly harmful to living organ donors (O’Keeffe et al., 2018). Therefore, the vulnerable populations that are disproportionately exposed to human organ trafficking victimization are in urgent need of protection and support, which need to be provided under the provisions of a specifically designed policy.
The scope of impact of the identified problem necessitates immediate action from the side of influential bodies and the general public. The global concerns about human organ trade and trafficking victimization of the poor, as well as the striving of the black market, impose revising current methods of solving the problem. Illegal organ trade hinders the economic, healthcare, ethical, and moral spheres of the society at large.
This policy proposal is designed to raise awareness about the problem of organ trafficking and unprotected status of victims, identify means for combatting the issues, and involve stakeholders and decision-makers to pursue organ trafficking victimization prevention. The target audience of the policy proposal includes stakeholders in the legal, government, and health care authorities since they have the means and the power of influence to change the current disparities in victim protection. The overview of the proposed practical solution to the identified problem, its goals, and planned steps are presented below.
Policy Overview and Goals
The policy proposal is designed to minimize the threats of human organ trafficking for the most vulnerable populations coming from underprivileged communities and ensuring thorough protection and support of the victims by means of specialized facilities. Scarce and fragmented initiatives might not deem effective in combatting such a complex and universal problem as human organ trafficking. The complexity of the issue is validated by the numerous interested parties involved in the process. However, a well-aligned, planned, and structured policy might bring beneficial results if provided with sufficient support.
The proposed policy is aimed at reducing the scope of adverse impacts and threats imposed on underprivileged vulnerable populations due to human organ trade and sale in the black market. Firstly, it seeks to enhance investigation efforts for tracking and imprisoning organ traffickers. Secondly, the policy aims at enhancing and improving the training of transplantation professionals to identify potential victims of organ trafficking and working with them to ensure protection. Thirdly, it is designed to improve the opportunities for economic, physical healthcare, mental healthcare, and family support services for victims. Fourthly, financial contributions and substantial funding should be allocated to implement the proposed policy provisions; therefore, means of finding the funds need to be identified and properly addressed. The details of the achievement of the three identified goals of the policy are presented below.
Policy Goals Achievement Steps
To achieve the outlined goals, specific policy provisions must be followed. The following are the steps that need to be taken when implementing the proposed policy. Combatting the problem requires “collaboration between actors involved in combating trafficking in human beings, such as the criminal justice sectors, and those involved in combating organ-related crimes, such as health organizations and survivor support services” (Pascalev et al., 2016, p. 2). By meeting the requirements of the vulnerable populations and bridging the gap in the investigation and training programs, the policymakers will be able to prevent organ trafficking crimes in the future. Importantly, the unity of all stakeholders’ actions must be guided and managed by official regulations with the prioritization of human rights protection.
Crime Investigation Facilitation
The first goal of the proposed policy is related to the improvement of the practices used by law-enforcement bodies to investigate human organ trafficking cases. Although it is a complex issue to investigate due to the abundance of black market operations, such efforts are essential to eliminate the criminal activity. In particular, the legal and judiciary bodies involved in human trafficking at large and those investigating transplantation issues must integrate their efforts in collaboration.
Indeed, this goal might be achieved by initiating and promoting close cooperation of organ trade and human trafficking criminal specialists in their efforts of investigating these crimes (Pascalev et al., 2016). Such an approach is validated by the inherent connection between the two spheres of criminal activity, namely human trafficking and organ trade.
Transplantation Professionals’ Training
The second goal is the implementation of practices aimed at the awareness and improvement of quality work with potential victims at the transplantation facilities. The essential issue is the obtainment of informed consent from a prospective donor and evaluation of the conditions under which the donor provides the consent. Indeed, according to Pascalev et al. (2016), “mechanisms for informed consent should incorporate provisions for evaluating the donor’s understanding, including assessment of the psychological impact of the process” (p. 3). Moreover, all donors “should undergo psychosocial evaluation by mental health professionals during screening,” which must be an obligatory procedure for all transplantation operations (Pascalev et al., 2016, p. 3).
Therefore, transplantation professionals should receive additional training to raise awareness of the forced and illegal trafficking of human organs to minimize the victimization of the vulnerable population. Such measures will provide a connection between law-enforcement agencies and health care organizations providing support to the victims since proper screening for potential victimization will allow for reporting criminals to authorities and place victims in support centers.
The third goal of the proposed policy is essential and more achievable in light of the complexity of the issue at hand. Indeed, the enhancement of investigating efforts might take a longer time to minimize the harm caused by human organ traffickers to vulnerable populations. Moreover, merely criminal law implications do not sufficiently meet the needs of the victims who require economic and health care support. Therefore, the policy should initiate opening support centers specifically designed for the victims of organ trafficking. As stated by Pascalev et al. (2016), “the protection of victims should be a priority for all actors involved in antitrafficking activities,” which should be manifested through the initiation of survivor support services (p. 2).
Therefore, specifically created centers should include such services for the survivors as primary health care to maintain physical health and ensure support of bodily systems injured as the result of transplantation. Furthermore, these services should include mental health recovery procedures to ensure the victims’ and their families’ psychological well-being. Similarly, legal services for human rights protection should be made available to the victims to help them sue the traffickers.
Finally, the fourth goal of the policy addressed the funding opportunities for implementing the planned interventions and providing economic and health care help to the victims of organ trafficking. Indeed, the planned steps require substantial funding that would allow for achieving the goals and making change.
Therefore, the policy’s funding should be carried out by means of raising funds by involving governmental agencies, non-governmental not-for-profit organizations, and sponsors to ensure the flow of contributions that would suffice the needs according to this policy. Both state and federal agencies should be contacted to acquire support in finding resources for the policy implementation. To succeed at funding, fund-raising campaigns should be initiated. They might include online promotional campaigns, advertisements, fund-raisers, and other possible means.
The Importance of the Policy Implementation and Conclusion
In summation, as it has been illustrated using evidence from recent research and official statements of both national and international organizations, human organ trade is a significant global problem. The populations from underprivileged communities are in a particularly vulnerable position due to their non-protection and disproportionate exposure to traffickers’ illegal activities. Therefore, the proposed policy is designed to protect the victims, provide them with the necessary support, and eliminate the problem of human organ trafficking in the long-term perspective.
Given the complexity of the issue and the scope of adverse outcomes for numerous victims, support from both governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as all stakeholders involved in antitrafficking activities is essential. Close cooperation of law enforcers, health care professionals, and transplantation specialists will allow for achieving the goals of the proposed policy.
O’Keeffe, L. M., Ramond, A., Oliver-Williams, C., Willeit, P., Paige, E., Trotter, P., Evans, J., Wadström, J., Nicholson, M., Collett, D., & Di Angelantonio, E. (2018). Mid-and long-term health risks in living kidney donors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 168(4), 276-284.
Oladehinde, A. M. (2019). Human trafficking: Organ trade. International Bar Association. Web.
Pascalev, A., Van Assche, K., Sándor, J., Codreanu, N., Naqvi, A., Gunnarson, M., Frunza, M., & Yankov, J. (2016). Protection of human beings trafficked for the purpose of organ removal: recommendations. Transplantation Direct, 2(2), 1-4.
Shimazono, Y. (n. d.). The state of the international organ trade: a provisional picture based on integration of available information. World Health Organization. Web.
Ward, A., Klassen, D. K., Franz, K. M., Giwa, S., & Lewis, J. K. (2018). Social, economic, and policy implications of organ preservation advances. Current Opinion in Organ Transplantation, 23(3), 336-346.