Although the tissue and organ donation market in the U.S. is highly regulated, black market dealings are not unheard of. Black market organ donation is illegal in most countries, including the United States. However, this does not change the reality. In fact, the World Health Organisation says that an organ is sold every hour and fears that the situation may only get worse.

Who gets first preference?

There is an overwhelming need for organs but most people would not get them because of scarce availability. So how do celebrities and high profile individuals seem to get organs so quickly? One such case is that of Robert Casey, former governor of Pennsylvania. Robert Casey was told that he would need a double transplant for his liver and heart in 1993. He received the transplant the very next day. Mickey Mantle, a very well known center fielder for New York Yankee’s only had to wait for 48 hours before getting a brand new liver to replace his own. How did they manage to jump the queue?

Wealthy patients around the world are willing to pay big bucks for organs and gangs in third world countries take advantage of desperate people and harvest their organs.

Organ donors in the United States

The black market for organs and human tissue does exist in the U.S. and usually involves bodies that are to be cremated. Illegally obtained organs and tissue harvested from a single cadaver is known to reach as many as 90 different recipients. The case of Michael Mastromarino is the perfect example. Mastromarino was a New York based oral surgeon who joined hands with Joseph Nicelli, an embalmer, in 2000 to harvest tissue from cadavers in funeral homes and sell it to many research facilities. Eventually, this high profile and very controversial case was brought into the limelight and both were arrested for several crimes.

Black market donors in third world countries

Because of the disparity of wealth, there is no shortage of people who are willing to sell their organs for money. In many cases, such donors are flown to a different country where the organs are removed in an operating room and are then flown back to their country. Such illegal operations have been uncovered in Brazil, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Eastern Europe among others.

Black market organ donation is wrong in more ways than one. The only people that gain anything from it are the rich patients, corrupt hospital administrators, traffickers and the middlemen.


Are you waiting for an organ to be donated? How long have you waited? We would love to hear from you!

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