Australia’s high demand for transplants is helping the black market trade in organ trafficking and the government must do more to prevent it, a report has found.
The report, Human Organ Trafficking and Organ Transplant Tourism, which was tabled in parliament on Monday, found the current national demand for donors far outstrips the available supply of organs, prompting people to turn to the illicit commercial market of organ trafficking.
It’s an industry worth an estimated $2.3 billion every year.
Close to 1500 people were listed on Australian organ transplant waiting lists in September – 1003 of whom are awaiting kidney transplants.
Another 11,000 people are on kidney dialysis. On the black market those kidneys can be purchased for anywhere between $68,000 and $163,000.
“Desperate people, often facing end-stage renal disease and other grave conditions, may travel to distant countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars and more, for an organ transplant where the donor is poor, exploited or unable to give free and informed consent to donation,” the report reads.
If the government does not take action to deal with this gap, that black market of organ trafficking will only continue to grow, according to the human rights sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, which authored the report.
The committee made 12 recommendations to the government to help combat the “grim trade”.
Among these is a requirement for the medical community to be obliged to report any knowledge or reasonable suspicion that someone under their care has received a commercial transplant and a suggestion that the laws prohibiting organ trafficking be strengthened.
The committee’s report also urged the government to enhance Australia’s domestic organ donation program, with only one in three people registered as donors.
That’s despite a majority of Australians saying they were willing to donate their organs when they die.
However, even if organ donation rates are increased, the report’s authors believe organ supply won’t be able to meet the total demand anytime in the foreseeable future – meaning Australia needs measures to address organ trafficking sooner rather than later.