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In Immunology, organ harvesting is a surgical procedure that removes organs or tissues for reuse, such as in organ transplantation, which is mired in ethical debate and heavily regulated, but has largely become an accepted medical practice.
The first step of organ harvesting is to check the health condition of the organ. If the source is human, most countries require that the source is legally dead for organ transplantation purposes (e.g. cardiac or brain dead) or a voluntary healthy adult for the donation of some organs. Organs cannot be harvested after heart stops beating for a long time. Thus, a brain dead donor is preferred, but only a small percentage of deaths are brain deaths. Therefore, the majority of human organ sources are post cardiac death.
Donation after cardiac death involves surgeons to take organs within minutes of respirators and other forms of life support have being cut off from patients who still have at least some brain activity. DCD had been the norm for organ donors before 'brain death' became the standard in the early 1970s. Since then, most donors have been brain-dead. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2039656/New-organ-donation-rules-Surgeons-wont-wait-make-sure-heart-stopped.html#ixzz2Sw5HsTzZ)
If consent is obtained from the source or the source's survivors, the next step is to perform a match between the source (donor) and the target (recipient) to reduce allergies. In the United States, the match between human donors and recipients is coordinated by groups like United Network for Organ Sharing. In the United Kingdom, the Human Tissue Authority did not yet rule on legality of donor matching web sites.
Co-ordination between teams working on different organs is often necessary in case of multiple-organ harvesting. Multiple-organ harvesting models are also developed from slaughtered pigs to reduce the use of laboratory animals
Quality of the organ then is certified. If the heart stopped beating for too long then the organ becomes unusable and cannot be used for transplant.
After organ harvesting the organs are often rushed to destination for emergency transplanting or preserved for later use or study.
The practice of illegal organ harvesting rapidly started to increase since the global financial crash in 2008. This practice has been emerging in many countries particularly in developing countries. However, it is not to say that this is only existential in developing countries. Many countries including China, South Korea, Philippine, and many European countries have reported consistent rise in such crime rate.
Illegal organ trafficking is a practice of removing an organ from a person and selling it for either medical purpose or commercial reason. These organs are often retrieved from vulnerable people are targeted as victims and have their organs forcefully removed. In other case (for instance in China) prisoners were executed in order to retrieve the organs. Removed organs are sold through various suppliers or blackmarkets. Of many organs, kidneys have the biggest demand, followed by heart and liver.
One of the methods of accessing the organ is by abduction. The victims are targeted and abducted, and then a doctor usually operates a dissection. It is rumoured that the typical strategy is a van snatching 6 to 14 years old youths. Those who voluntarily give up an organ are still at their disadvantage. Most of such people trade their organs with money—their sole purpose is to make quick cash. Unfortunately, it is evident that in many cases, they are unfairly served as the large proportion of the money from selling of an organ is taken by the traffickers, and only a small amount is given to the donor.
After awareness of this issue, the World Health Organization have implemented various policies and informed countries where such practice is present to regulate in order to reduce the damages. This lead China to criminalize the illegal organ trafficking and consequently, arresting number of doctors and gangs who illegally participated in the practice. This matter, although regulated by the state in China, continues to be predominent in its society through gangs and black markets. One other reason as to what makes it so difficult to eradicate this problem is that it is not strictly regulated by the police (as they do not consider the issue as seriously).
As part of the organ transplantation this procedure is part of many ethical debates. The debates are less on donations between relatives, paired exchange or altruistic donation but more on illegal, forced or compensated transplantation like organ theft or organ trade, and to a less degree, on fair organ distribution, animal rights and religious prohibition on consuming some animals such as pork.
- Organ Donation after Cardiac Death Robert Steinbrook, M.D. N Engl J Med 2007; 357:209-213July 19, 2007DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp078066
- Human Tissue Authority statement on matching donors website
- An improved technique for multiple organ harvesting, TE Starzl, C Miller, B Broznick, Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1987 October; 165(4): 343–348.
- Multiple-organ harvesting for models of isolated hemoperfused organs of slaughtered pigs. C Grosse-Siestrup, C Fehrenberg, H von Baeyer. Dept. and Facilities of Experimental Animal Sciences, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
7. http://www1.american.edu/ted/prisonorgans.htm 8. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2006/12/chin-d29.html 9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/27/kidney-trade-illegal-operations-who 10. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9453357/Chinese-organ-trafficking-ring-dismantled.html 11. http://english.cri.cn/7146/2012/08/07/2702s715817.htm 12. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/09/117_94910.html 13. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/09/117_94910.html 14. http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/world/s-korean-police-arrest-illicit-organ-brokers-with-china-link-148279.html 15. http://www.rjkoehler.com/2011/09/18/organ-trafficking-increasing-in-korea-a-sign-of-the-times/ 16. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/04/12/11/dinky-confirms-abductions-belies-kidnapping-organs
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