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Are we a hotspot for organ trafficking?

 | March 27, 2012

While skeptics are doubtful that illegal organ trafficking exist in Malaysia, reports tell otherwise.

KUALA LUMPUR: That Malaysia is one of the hotspots for the harvesting of human organs may be difficult to digest for some but the fact remains that we are a country on the radar of Bangladeshi police.

In September 2010, a news report said Malaysia was among ‘several countries’ involved in a syndicate linked to illegal kidney trade.

The report, while shocking some, however came as no surprise to Aegile Fernandez, programme director with Tenaganita, simply because she remembers with clarity the first time she heard about human organ trafficking in Malaysia.

“It was in 2009, when word reached me that organs were being trafficked in Johor and linked to Indonesia and Singapore – the triangle of one of the hotspots where this activity was taking place.

“Tenaganita brought this to the attention of the police and government but both parties denied such an occurrence,” she said.

The following year Bernama reported that Malaysia was among “several countries on the radar” of the Bangladesh police who were on a trail of an international syndicate linked to illegal kidney trade across Southeast Asia.

Bernama quoted Bangladeshi police as saying donors from remote villages in Bangladesh had been flown to various destinations to have their kidneys harvested. Eight were arrested in connection with the case.

According to the report “investigators have identified a reputed international hospital with branches in key regions and capitals, including a hospital in Selangor, said to have been involved in the illegal business.”

‘You can’t hide this’

But National Transplant Resource Centre (under the Ministry of Health) chief national clinical manager Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor said they had however not heard of anything like it (organ trafficking in Malaysia).

Dr Lela who is also the vice-chairman at the National Transplant Registry said: “The thing is, if it happened in a hospital, definitely those from the medical fraternity would be talking about it, but there’s none. Its not something you can hide.”

Her skepticim, she said was based on the fact that organ removal is very difficult to do without the equipment in a hospital.

“It’s very hard to believe…we know of people going overseas, to China, India, Philipines and do it illegally, though those numbers have been decreasing and we’re trying to put a stop to that. But to have someone flown here. I’m really not sure about it,” she said.

Investigation needed

A Reuters report also named Malaysia as one of the countries where buyers purchased kidneys from Bangladesh.

It reported that “brokers often posed as friends of relatives to lure the victims, often impoverished, into hospitals here, Singapore and India.”

Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (CASSA) president Jacob George is of the opinion that organ trafficking should be investigated should it be happening.

“If something like that has happened on our watch, it would be very embarrassing. Malaysia should not be a transit point for illegal organ transplant. We cannot be seen on the same league as China, India, in the forefront of organ trafficking,” he said.

Also read:

Human organs harvested in M’sia


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