Organ Trafficking: Global Solutions for a Global Problem

Tazeen H. Jafar, MD, MPH


Am J Kidney Dis. 2009;54:1145-1157. 

In This Article

Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism

The most recent Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism strictly condemns all forms of organ trade that exploit the poor, regardless of whether from within their own countries or abroad.[81] This declaration, which builds on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was passed in April 2008 at the Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, convened by the Transplantation Society and International Society of Nephrology. The declaration states that all forms of transplant commercialism, which target the vulnerable, should be prohibited, including transplant tourism and organ trafficking.

The declaration emphasizes the need to address the safety and health care needs of the donor before, during, and after donation. It also calls upon countries to increase programs for the prevention of kidney disease and enhance regional programs for availability of organs to meet the transplant needs of its residents from donors within their own populations.

The declaration also emphasizes the distinction between travel for transplant and transplant tourism, the former being restricted to specific instances in which such travel may be ethical, as in the case of a genetically related donor and recipient and recipients with dual citizenships for organs from live family members.[82] Compared with the previous international guidelines, the Declaration of Istanbul can be viewed as an important way forward toward a clear stand by the international physician community against transplant tourism. It also is important to note that the declaration clearly allows reimbursement of legitimate expenses incurred during transplant. Moreover, it does not specifically prohibit regulated incentives or rewards for donation.