Liver donors offered €40,000 by trafficking ring, say Spanish police

Wealthy Lebanese man reportedly hired others when seeking illegal liver transplant

Spanish police have dismantled a ring accused of trafficking human organs and which they say offered €40,000 to potential liver donors

Spanish police have dismantled a ring accused of trafficking human organs and which they say offered €40,000 to potential liver donors

Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 01:00

Spanish police have dismantled a ring accused of trafficking human organs and which they say offered €40,000 to potential liver donors.

In the first operation of its kind in Spain, police arrested five people, all foreigners. Among them was a wealthy Lebanese man who had reportedly hired the others as intermediaries when he was seeking an illegal liver transplant.

In the summer of 2012 an NGO alerted the authorities, after noticing large sums of money being offered online for organs from live donors. Suspicions increased further when Valencia’s health authority registered an increase in the number of people undergoing complex medical examinations in a private clinic.

The 61-year-old Lebanese man who, according to El País newspaper, holds political office in his country, was suffering from a serious liver disease when he came to Spain specifically to find a donor and undergo the transplant.

Nine possible donors, many believed to be poor immigrants, underwent the tests in a private clinic in Valencia.

Although a candidate was found who was willing to give part of his liver in exchange for €40,000, he was not allowed to due to Spain’s strict protocols for donating organs.

“Our system works,” said Ignacio Cosidó, a politician who supervises the national police force, following the arrests.


Response
“When there is an attempt to carry out a transplant due to economic interests or coercion, there is an immediate response.”

Eventually, the Lebanese man did receive a transplant – legally – from one of his own children, in a Spanish hospital.

Spain is a world leader in organ transplants and last month broke its own record by carrying out 45 in a single day.

The head of Spain’s National Transplant Organisation, Rafael Matesanz, warned the human organ trade was “an increasing problem across the world in the 21st century.”