Bioethics News

Scarcity and Poverty Make Iraqi Families Sell Organs to Survive

By Princess Chukwuneke

According to the 2014 World Bank statistics, about 22.5% of Iraq’s population of 30 million live in severe poverty. Breadwinners do not earn enough to pay for rent, healthcare, or the needs of their children. Being proud, many Iraqi families refuse to beg for food. As a desperate solution, they turn instead to selling their kidneys.

Baghdad and Kurdistan are two prominent organ trafficking hubs, with illegal gangs offering up to $10,000 (£7,000) for a kidney. In 2012, the government of Iraq approved a law to combat trafficking. With this, only relatives are allowed to donate organs to one another and by mutual consent. But organ trafficking is so widespread that sellers have figured out ways to forge documents for clients. Moreover, given the time-sensitive nature of organ donation, surgeons are often hard-pressed to investigate further into the legitimacy of the relationship between donors and recipients.

Perhaps there are two areas to think about here. First: the debilitating effect of poverty that leads one to selling body parts. Second: the power of human dignity evinced by the choice of Iraqi families to not ask for charity. However, could it not be argued that selling body parts to survive suggests a deterioration of that dignity?

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The post Scarcity and Poverty Make Iraqi Families Sell Organs to Survive appeared first on Global Bioethics Initiative (GBI).

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