MSU organ trafficking expert heads to Vatican for summit

Jan 31, 2017

The Vatican has invited experts in the field of human organ trafficking from around the world to a conference next week in Rome. WKAR's Scott Pohl speaks with an expert from Michigan State University who has been invited to the Vatican Summit on Organ Trafficking.


Organ trafficking is illegal around the world, with the exception of Iran, where the buying and selling of organs has been legalized.

Dr. Monir Moniruzzaman is an MSU assistant professor of Anthropology and the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences at MSU. He’s studied human organ trafficking for about ten years in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. His focus has been on the black market for kidneys, liver lobes and corneas from living donors, who often are desperately poor.

Dr. Moniruzzaman says most of these people have been misled by organ brokers and don’t fully comprehend the possible ramifications.

“Usually,” he explains, “they are engaged in physical, demanding jobs such as rickshaw pulling or heavy lifting. After their organ donation, they couldn’t engage with this physically demanding job.”

Dr. Moniruzzaman says that many of these organ donors do not get proper post-operative care and suffer the health-related consequences later. Others struggle with emotional trauma related to having sold what they consider to be God’s creation for profit. And, he says that despite having sold an organ, they usually wind up worse off financially; unable to return to work, they spend all the cash and are left with nothing.

The Vatican Summit on Organ Trafficking is February 7th and 8th.