Organ trade on Marketplace: black market or scam?

Organ trade on Marketplace: black market or scam?


A series of advertisements on the facebook marketplace page in which it is offered organs in exchange for large sums of money raised the alarms of the authorities and generated concern in society. Despite the fact that in less than a week officials from the Scientific, Criminal and Criminalistics Investigations Corps (Cicpc) captured three people related to this type of criminal activity in the country, the event opened a debate: is it possible that there is a organ black market in Venezuela Or are they unscrupulous people who seek to take advantage of the anguish of patients waiting for transplants, procedures that have been suspended in the country since 2017?

Lucila Velutini, member of the board of directors of the National Transplant Organization of Venezuela (ONTV), assured that it is not viable that there is a black market for organs in the country because in Venezuela there is a very strict law that condemns these cases.

“Any person who tries to trade an organ, whether it is a natural person, a doctor, a public or private institution, or an organization, faces a prison sentence if they commit this type of activity,” he explained.

The Law on Donation and Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells in human beings, in force since 2011, establishes between 4 to 8 years in prison for people linked to the organ trade, with greater force in the professionals who lend themselves to this type of illegal intervention. “Donation is the most beautiful act that exists, because it is the act of giving life. Y It is a completely altruistic act.Velutini specified.

strict protocols

A transplant is not a medical intervention that can be carried out clandestinely anywhere. The protocols for before, during and after an intervention are very strict and must be fully complied with. Otherwise, there is a risk of losing your life or rejecting the organ.

In addition, it is a process that can involve up to 50 people, including health professionals and administrative staff that channel each of the cases.

“It is also important to note that if someone wants to sell their organ that is a very difficult act to be carried out in the country. The person who wants to donate cannot go to any hospital center and say that they want to donate a kidney, because for that a number of tests must be carried out and living-to-living transplants must be done simultaneously. That is, the organ is removed and immediately transplanted to the donor, “said Velutini.

In the case of living donors, they must be of legal age, comply with updated medical reports and pass tests that confirm compatibility with the recipient. According to Venezuelan law, you cannot exceed the fifth degree of consanguinity and you have to put the donation will in writing, the same without lucrative reasons or coercion.

“That is, even among friends, people who willingly want to donate their organ to another, cannot do so because it is punishable by law,” said the ONTV representative.

For those by deceased donor, they only qualify by confirming the diagnosis of brain death, except when the person in full faculties expresses the contrary.

On June 1, 2017, the Venezuelan Foundation for Donations and Transplants of Organs, Tissues and Cells (Fundavene), executor of the Procurement System for Organs for Transplantation since 2014, notified the suspension of the cadaveric donor program throughout the country.

The measure, which at the time was said to be temporary, was attributed to the shortage of maintenance inducing and immunosuppressant drugs, failures of pre-transplant treatment, deficiencies in the hospital network, the deterioration of services and the migration of personnel. qualified.

Currently, only a few private clinics are performing live-to-live transplants in the country. This type of intervention has an approximate cost of 70,000 dollars when the organ to be transplanted is a kidney, and in the case of the liver, the amounts can be higher.

a possible scam

The commotion began on April 15 when reporter Delmiro De Barrio posted on his account at Twitter images of a series of offers made in the Facebook Marketplace virtual store, in which several people were selling kidneys for high dollar sums.

“Kidney of a 15-year-old girl in perfect condition”, could be read in one of the publications that included a text that justified the action with the intention of becoming independent for a better quality of life with her brothers.

Two days later, Tarek William Saab, Nicolás Maduro’s attorney general, ad the arrest of a woman identified as Marielys del Carmen Yedra, for offering a kidney in exchange for 20,000 dollars. She was surprised on June 13 avenue in Acarigua, Portuguesa state. She presents a record for illicit possession of weapons.

Cicpc officials stopped three days later to two other people in Bolívar state for the same crime: Franklin Rosales, 41 years old, and a 16-year-old teenager.

The Public Ministry investigates if it is a criminal network.

Velutini warned that given the desperation due to the paralysis of the organ procurement system in the country, some people may believe in this type of offer. «It is to be thought that these types of offers are more related to a scamto make people who are in need believe that they can save your life as long as they pay a large sum of money. The posts may be more of a scam than a black market organ sale.”accurate.

As a representative of ONTV, Velutini called on the population not to fall into the hands of unscrupulous people. “What can happen is they end up losing their life or losing their freedom,” he said.

Offers keep popping up

Since the authorities began the investigations, many of the posts offering organs have been removed. However, certain suspicious advertisements can still be read.

When you search the Marketplace, The National was able to find a publication similar to those previously reported. The offer shows the referential image of human kidneys with the title Org.Riñón. While the description says “6.5ml, green” without giving any other details.

Organ trade on Marketplace: black market or scam?
Photo: Screenshot

The profile of the person who made the offer belongs to a man and was created this year. He only has 8 added friends and points out that he is located in the city of Caracas.

The post appears on Marketplace multiple times and was also posted to at least 14 other Facebook buy and sell groups.

Organ trade on Marketplace: black market or scam?
Photo: Screenshot

Reactivation of transplants

“We insist that it is necessary to reactivate the organ procurement system in the country to care for all these people who are desperate to have a second chance at life,” Velutini said.

According to unofficial figures, some 7,000 people undergo dialysis in the country, of which approximately 40% would be ready to receive a transplant. Of that percentage, 10% would be children and adolescents.

Velutini clarified that although it is urgent that these procedures be resumed in Venezuela, it cannot be just an order issued by the State.

«Hospitals must first be equipped with everything necessary to perform this type of operation. In order for a public hospital to be a transplant center again, it must have all the services: laboratory, blood bank, x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, emergency, intensive care, at least two operating theaters that work, and all the medical services that these people need. . It should be noted that those who undergo this type of surgery must not only go through a series of physical examinations but also psychological and even dental examinations, “he explained.

The proposal from the ONTV is that the public entities in charge of dealing with the transplant situation establish alliances with clinics and private organizations to reactivate transplants in at least one center in the country and that it has everything necessary to care for patients adequately. «It is very sad all the lives that could be saved in these 5 years, since only one person can donate up to 8 organs. There are 8 lives that a single person could save », he concluded.


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