Checklist: Passport, Plane Ticket, Organ Transplant

K. A. Bramstedt; Jun Xu


American Journal of Transplantation. 2007;7(7):1698-1701. 

In This Article

What is Transplant Tourism?

Discussed here is the practice of transplant tourism involving a US resident traveling to a foreign country for the purpose of obtaining an organ transplant. Other countries such as Australia and Egypt also witness the practice of their residents traveling abroad for transplant, often to India and China.[7–9] The source of the organ is variable, and is often from a citizen (living or deceased) of the country where the transplant is performed. Alternatively, the organ can be from a living donor whom the recipient brings abroad. While the US allows nonresidents to come to their facilities for the express purpose of receiving an organ transplant with equal priority as US citizens,[10] it also has strict guidelines regarding the number of nonresident transplants, hospital quality, transplant center performance, informed consent, and donor source. While none of these guidelines ultimately guarantees the surgical outcomes of the donors and recipients, they are relevant to the ethical and safe practice of transplantation.

Shying away from the term "transplant tourism," the insurance industry prefers to refer to this practice as "medical value travel".[11] "Value" in this sense is an economic term, rather than an ethics term, in that there is the additional temptation of financial incentives offered by employers for their workers to participate in overseas healthcare.[11–13] US organ transplants often cost in excess of US$100 000, yet can be obtained overseas for considerably less. A portion of this cost savings is then passed along to the employee as a bonus for lowering corporate health care expenses.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: