Organ Trafficking

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By the time her work brought her back to the United States, Nancy ScheperHughes had spent more than a decade tracking the illegal sale of human organs across the globe. Posing as a medical doctor in some places and a wouldbe kidney buyer in others, she had linked gangsters, clergymen and surgeons in a trail that led from South Africa, Brazil and other developing nations all the way back to some of her own country's best medical facilities. So it was that on an icy February afternoon in 2003, the anthropologist from the University of California,
Berkeley, found herself sitting across from a group of transplant surgeons in a small conference room at a big Philadelphia hospital.
By accident or by design, she believed, surgeons in their unit had been transplanting blackmarket kidneys from residents of the world's most impoverished slums into the failing bodies of wealthy dialysis patients from Israel, Europe and the United States. According to ScheperHughes, the arrangements were being negotiated by an elaborate network of criminals who kept most of the money themselves. For about $150,000 per transplant, these organ brokers would reach across continents to connect buyers and sellers, whom they then guided to "brokerfriendly" hospitals here in the United States (places where ScheperHughes says surgeons were either complicit in the scheme or willing to turn a blind eye). The brokers themselves often posed as or hired clergy to accompany their clients into the hospital and ensure that the process went smoothly. The organ sellers typically got a few thousand dollars for their troubles, plus the chance to see an American city.
As she made her case, ScheperHughes, a diminutive 60something with splashes of pink in her short, grayishbrown hair, slid a bulky document across the table—nearly 60 pages of interviews she had conducted with buyers, sellers…...

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