ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Ethical Concerns of Organ Transplant Tourism

Updated on July 20, 2017
Theophanes profile image

Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.

What is Transplant Tourism?

Transplant tourism is a new and shady concern on the global level. It is a practice in which rich foreigners are given the opportunity to buy any organ they so please and have it transplanted into them with little more then an exchange of a large sum of money. The concern comes when one has to think about where these organs are coming from and why they are on the market.

Diagram of the kidneys (from the back.)
Diagram of the kidneys (from the back.)

The Legal Ramifications

Organ tourism is often illegal in the countries it's practiced in. There are good reasons for this. For one when a person decides to donate an organ they must go through a slew of health and type tests to make sure the said organ is fit and healthy enough to function in another person. Also these organs are taken from either living people or people who are coming to an end in their life anyway. Organs aren't taken from individuals who have a high risk of needing it in the future. Furthermore in most countries organs are illegal to buy for the simple reason that the rich should not be given special treatment. A peasant with organ failure is no less sick then a wealthy person nor any less deserving.

Because these activities are often illegal at least one party involved usually ends up financially burned. Donors are often peasants desperate for money to keep their homes or continue on their lives. These people are lured in with the promise of being paid for said organ, sometimes as much as ten grand but few ever see a cent. On the other side are the transplantees who are sometimes lured to foreign countries where all their cash is taken when there really isn't an organ to be transplanted. The practice brings forth all sorts of unseemly individuals.

The Social Ramifications

Many people are turned down every year for organ transplants because they are a bad risk. These people often turn to desperate means to secure an organ. Where this is money there is always a way. In cases where there is only one organ in the human body to be donated (for instance the heart) the donor must die to give the organ. In the United States and other first world countries this is only done when an individual is either dying or completely brain dead with no hope of recovery. In a less fortunate country people could be kidnapped and killed for their organs, or taken to be vivisected as payment for bets gone bad. The death of innocents is usually condemned as rumor but it's hard to say that it isn't true when peasants routinely disappear in areas where organ agents are searching for fresh meat.

The poor often voluntarily give up an organ such as a kidney after being promised money. Rarely do they actually get any money and because the practice is illegal very few report to the police. In later life when these people find themselves needing an organ they'll find that they themselves have to wait on a legitimate list, sometimes until they die.

Is it right or ethical to take organs from the poor? Even if they are being paid, is it right? What happens to them afterwards, after they are kicked out of the hospital? What happens if one of their children or family members needs the organ they already gave up? Is it right for the rich to have special treatment merely because they're rich?

Sometimes organs are taken from legitimate lists and given to foreigners who can afford to pay before the organ can reach someone in the same country who direly needs it. Is this ethical?

Cloning the End of Transplant Tourism?

On January 15, 2008, the first cloned rat heart started beating on it's own outside of any body. The heart was created using the aid of stem cells and beats at 2% the capacity of a normal rat heart. Still, the fact it beats at all without any help is a spectacular discovery. It's not to much to think that in the future human organs may be able to be grown in the laboratory and kept on stock for whoever may need a replacement part. If this happens then there will be no need for donors or transplant tourism. Everyone would theoretically be treated equally as for the first time we'd have an abundance of organs to go around.

Rat Heart Grown

More from this Author:


Catching Marbles - A New England based travel blog

Tales from the Birdello - For all homesteading and farming matters

Deranged Thoughts from a Cluttered Mind - For funny personal anecdotes


Through the Looking Glass Farm

Typhani Brooks - Artist




    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      Many patients struggling with liver failure. In India, liver transplantation surgeries are carried out with equivalent results if in contrast to UK and USA More Read

    • days leaper profile image

      days leaper 

      9 years ago from england

      A good attempt at informing people of the folly of not going through proper channels.

      I have made a link to your hub from one of my own.

      Again, Thank You!

    • moonlake profile image


      11 years ago from America

      Our son 5 years ago received a brain injury. He was 28. The day after he arrived at the hospital and all test were finished they ask us to sign for him to be a donor. They told us he was brain dead. I just couldn't do it I was worried they would turn off the machines and not try to save him..Everyday for two weeks more then once a day they ask us to sign to take him off life support and sign for him to be a donor. We said "no you do all that you can to save him. When we think it is the right time we will sign." I heard the nurses talking about us and how foolish we were. Long story short. Our son is alive today and living a normal life.

      I know how much donors are needed and I know that someday I may need one of those donors. I have a bad heart.

      I still believe everyone should sign a donor card or whatever. It was just a decision we couldn't make for our son. Our donor story is something I will never forget. I'm giving you the mild story.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)