The question of whether people are murdered for their body parts is an emotive one, one to which I will give my opinion in due course. What I would first like to consider is the various levels of recycling of human body parts for commercial gain.
The USA is the biggest market for human remains that are turned into wrinkle cures. Dead Ukranians and Chinese are processed in Germany by a subsiduary of the Florida-based RTI Biologics. The industry needs a constant supply of dead bodies in order to extract collagen (found in skin, joints, cartilage and bones), corneas, tendons, and ligaments, which it makes considerable profits from, as part of a rapidly expanding industry.
Skin is the best source of Grade A collagen, and many Chinese cosmetic products, extracted from the skin of executed prisoners, are exported to the USA and Europe. In November 2013, the Chinese government declared that it would ‘phase out’ this supply line as a result of bad publicity, of the inter-government type. The unknowing smear dead human remains on their lips. Be careful who you kiss. Patients are also not informed that the products used in their breast reconstructions and penis implants were reclaimed from the dead. A couple making love may thus be engaging in a act of cultural exchange.
There is also a lack of quality control: Between 2002 and 2012, at least 1,352 infections in the USA followed human tissue transplants, according to an International Consortium of Investigative Journalist (ICIJ) analysis of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data. These infections were linked to the deaths of 40 people, and, according to Centers for Disease Control, with the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and rabies.
The USA Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that RTI manufactured 500,000 to 600,000 implants, with 90% of them being made from human tissue. In its 2011 filings, RTI stated there ‘can be no assurances’ that ‘our tissue suppliers will comply with such regulations intended to prevent communicable disease transmission’ or ‘even if such compliance is achieved, that our implants have not been or will not be associated with transmission of disease’.
The agency that regulates the industry in the USA is the FDA, which has no authority over facilities that implant body parts, and which relies on standards that are set by the transplant industry, the American Association of Tissue Banks. According to ICIJ analysis, only a third of USA tissue banks are registered with the FDA (and only 7% of foreign facilities), and a newly registered facility will typically wait 2 years before its first inspection. At best, this process may be described as ‘light touch’ regulation, as advocated by such as Ronald Reagan, others may see it as bordering on criminal irresponsibility which allows exploitation.
The cross border trade in human remains is prey to a secrecy that oils the wheels of profit. Authorities are not always aware of where human remains come from, for it is a complex ‘pass the parcel’ process – such countries as China, Slovakia, and Rwanda export to Germany, which export ‘finished products’ to the USA; which supplies the world. It is a vast and complex supply chain, difficult to penetrate, involving subsidiaries of multinational medical corporations. Once a product is in the European Union, it can be shipped to the USA with few questions asked. There are more checks done on bananas, and that is because it would take a lot of bananas to be worth the vast sum a disease-free dead body might fetch. Of course, it is illegal in the USA and most other countries to buy or sell human remains, but, just as blood donors are not paid for their blood, but for the time they spend donating it, by the same fabrication, it is permissible to pay ‘service fees’ that ‘cover the costs’ of finding, storing and processing the dead. Body hunters in the USA can get as much as $10, 000 for each body they procure from hospitals, mortuaries and morgues. They look at the dead with dollar signs attached to their parts.
Human remains are often stolen. Der Spiegel, a German magazine, reported on post-autopsy body parts being smuggled out of hospital basements by hospital workers who sold them to local drug companies for the extraction of growth hormones. Muscle membranes from thighs, which are used in reconstructive surgery, and membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, used in reconstructive surgery, are also goods sold on this human market.
Human remains are harvested from all ranges of the age spectrum. Theoretically, abortion clinics ‘donate’ foetal materials to a buyer, who charges the research facility for ‘retrieval costs’, which cover all operational expenses plus profits. The ‘donating’ mother does not share in this profit, and is probably unaware of the use of her ‘donation’. Reported (internet) prices for aborted remains have been: intact trunk, $600; eyes, $75; brain, $999; limbs, $75; spinal cord, $325; liver, $150; kidney, $125; spleen, $75; lungs and heart, $150; bone marrow, $350; skin, $100.
A report in the UK’s Daily Mail (2012) showed that ground baby powder pills, which tested as 99.7 per cent human, were being smuggled from China into South Korean. Aborted foetuses are bought, then taken to clinics where they are placed in medical drying microwaves. Once the skin is dry enough, it is powdered and processed into capsules, which are marketed as stamina boosters. Microwave-dried placenta is also sought after for its alleged ‘medicinal’ benefits. The human flesh capsules contain super-bacteria. The danger is that they will be sold to the gullible on the internet.
Foetal products may be used to test flavourings. A report by Ethan A. Huff in Natural News (2012) stated that ‘The Obama Administration has given its blessing to PepsiCo to continue utilizing the services of a company that produces flavour chemicals for the beverage giant using aborted human foetal tissue. The report states that: ‘the Obama Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has decided that PepsiCo’s arrangement with San Diego, Cal.- based Senomyx, which produces flavour enhancing chemicals for Pepsi using human embryonic kidney tissue, simply constitutes ‘ordinary business operations’. This is misleading. Whether or not Senomyx uses Embryonic Kidney 293 – a specific cell line which were derived from the kidney cells of an aborted human embryo in 1972 – to evaluate how human taste receptors respond to chemical flavourings, neither Pepsi nor any other USA company sells any consumable products that contain material from human foetuses.
Body parts of the undead are also traded. The European economic crisis boosts the illegal trade in human organs, which was once centred in India, China, and the Philippines. Impoverished people offer their kidneys, bone marrow, lungs and corneas on the internet. A report by Dan Bilefsky (New York Times, 2012) stated: ‘In Spain, Italy, Greece and Russia, advertisements by people peddling organs – as well as hair, sperm and breast milk – have turned up on the Internet, with asking prices for lungs as high as $250,000. In late May, the Israeli police detained 10 members of an international crime ring suspected of organ trafficking in Europe, European Union law enforcement officials said. The officials said the suspects had targeted impoverished people in Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus’.
Likewise, poor Americans sell their body parts in order to survive. Some would claim that this is their right – the right of the ‘free market’ to dispose of your body for profit. Whatever your stance on this issue, it can not be justified if there is any factor which pressures people to sell their body parts. The reality for many Americans is that they have lost their jobs, and are finding it difficult to feed their family. After savings have been exhausted, an option is to sell their body parts. Unless you are one of the 400 families which have as much wealth as 150,000,000 Americans, then your ‘choice’ is nothing more than ‘necessity’. It is true that alternative strategies of survival could be chosen, such as robbing from the 400 families, but that would not be tolerated, or prostitution, which would. The rich and middle class do not sell their organs. In a just society, no person should have to sell parts of their body in order to feed their children.
Criminal gangs coerce poor Europeans. A European Union prosecutor claimed in 2012: ‘Organized criminal groups are preying upon the vulnerable on both sides of the supply chain, people suffering from chronic poverty, and desperate and wealthy patients who will do anything to survive’. The UN estimates that 5% to 10% of kidney transplants performed annually result from organ trafficking. Organ recipients mainly come from the US, Britain, France, Israel, Italy and Germany.
Often, donors never receive payment, or are given only a small fraction of the value of their ‘donation. A report in The Atlantic (2012) detailed how anthropologist Monir Moniruzzaman infiltrated illegal organ-peddlers in Bangladesh: ‘After they agree to donate, sellers are tissue tested, and if there is a match, the broker will offer the seller around $1,150. But in most cases, the sellers do not receive anywhere near that amount. The organ brokers tack on extra fees for travel and other logistics, and the sellers make sometimes only half the initial amount – and even then only after the surgery is completed’.
The profit motive is behind those who murder to satisfy ritual. African Albinos are hunted like animals by dealers who can make up to US $75,000 selling a complete dismembered body, as reported in a 2011 African World discussion forum. The report tells of ‘Albino hunters’ beheading a 10 year old boy, then chopping of his leg, which they sold. The Ugandan Daily Monitor (February 2014) tells the story of ‘Monica Apio (who) left home with her friends in the early morning of January 1 for New Year prayers at Atopi Chapel, but she did not return home … Her decomposing body was found near Arocha swamp with her tongue missing … The post-mortem report conducted at Apac Hospital indicates that Apio was killed and her attackers went away with some of the body parts’. Monica was 4 years old.
The profit motive underpins kidnapping to remove body parts. The following text is taken from the 112th Congress, 2nd Session – A Bill to combat trafficking in human organs, and for other purposes; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, October 2012.
‘On November 20, 2004, Xin Ren from California State University stated to the International Bureau for Children’s Rights Conference in Montreal, that, (In 2003) children were often either sold by their parents for little money or kidnapped and abducted by the traffickers to have their organ(s) removed for transplant purpose. … (S)ome people were even murdered in the process of forcible removal of their organs’.
‘On March 30, 2006, the Police Superintendent of Paranaque, Philippines, announced the arrest of a suspect alleged to have been involved with a kidnapping syndicate in the region which had been abducting children to remove and sell their organs on the global black market, as in the case of one child who was discovered dead in Cavite, Philippines, with his internal organs missing’.
‘Pakistani authorities in April 2007 raided a black market organ ring in Lahore that consisted of doctors, officials, and middlemen who had abducted potential donors, drugged them and removed their kidneys without consent to then sell for profit’.
‘On November 17, 2008, the Congress of the Philippines passed a resolution which directed a Senate committee to investigate the rising instances of child organ trafficking in the country, and stated that the National Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Division reported that, the abducted children are housed somewhere in Mindanao where victims are supplied with vitamin supplements to keep their internal organs healthy, and are then transported outside the country to undergo surgery for organ transplants’.
‘A February 2008 police raid on an organ trafficking ring in Gurgaon, India, found that men posing as doctors to remove kidneys from migrant laborers conducted approximately five hundred illegal kidney transplants over nine years, and possessed a waiting list of potential recipients of those organs from Canada, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and the United States’.
‘On January 12, 2011, Doctor Yusuf Sonmez, who has been dubbed the Turkish Frankenstein, was arrested in Pristina for his alleged participation in illegal organ trafficking in Kosovo and Azerbaijan’. A 2013 United Press International report repeated the words of prosecutor Jonathon Ratel: ‘The sole and driving motive for this exploitation of the poor … was the opportunity of obscene profit’.
The aforementioned examples of exploitation are by no means exhaustive, and I have deliberately refrained from detailing the most harrowing of accounts, although believing them to be factual, so as not to be accused of ‘sensationalism’.
The question of whether people are murdered for their body parts is an emotive one, but also one simple to answer, for people are intrinsically capable of committing any evil, whether motivated by hatred or greed: ‘A belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness’ (Joseph Conrad). A line might be drawn between the commercial exploitation of body parts and kidnap and murder to obtain them for profit, that is, those involved in the former persuit would find the latter one repugnant – we are not talking about degrees of exploitation that can be plotted on a continuum; there is a substantive difference between those who would ‘commercially’ exploit and those who would murder to exploit. I leave this open to debate. This is not to shirk the question. I believe that much of what I have described as commercial exploitation is bad, and that the coercion, kidnapping, and murder of people for body parts is evil, albeit bad and evil are but words, and that it is rational to suggest that bad and evil have a relationship to one another; that the one could emerge from the other; that is, a bad mindset – a fixed mental attitude or disposition – might precurse an evil one, and both are likely to be nutured in societies which allow the trading of human body parts for obscene profit. This is my view. What is yours?
lenin nightingale 2014