Nephrologists Take on Organ Trafficking

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Nephrologists from around the world have banded together to issue a strongly worded series of statements intended to stem organ trafficking and transplant tourism.

These statements are called the Declaration of Istanbul, named for the city which hosted the meeting that spawned them. The text of this declaration was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2008;3:1227-1231).

The American Society of Transplantation, the American Society of Nephrology, and the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology have endorsed the declaration, as have similar societies outside the United States.

The group enunciated “strategies to increase deceased donation, and to ensure the protection and safety of living donors, and appropriate recognition for their heroic act while combating transplant tourism, organ trafficking, and transplant commercialism.”

The group calls for:
  • Appropriate actions by governments in collaboration with health-care institutions, professionals, and nongovernmental organizations to increase deceased donation;
  • Legislation to be enacted in countries without established organ-donation or transplantation systems that would initiate deceased-organ donation and create transplantation infrastructure;
  • Countries with well-established deceased-donor transplant programs to share information, expertise, and technologies with countries seeking to improve theirs;
  • Provision of donation-related disability, life, and health insurance in countries that lack universal health insurance, and ensuring donors in countries with universal health insurance have access to appropriate medical care related to the donation.

“The participants were asked to go back to their various professional societies and governments and obtain endorsements for the declaration,” said one of the document's architects, William E. Harmon, MD, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston, a member of the American Society of Nephrology's Public Policy Committee and past president of the American Society of Transplantation.

“And the list of groups that have endorsed it is growing every week. The intent is that this should become the community standard.”

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