Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Illicit Kidney Transplants Lure Desperate Patients

Middle east

Two years ago, Israeli citizen Ophira Dorin faced the disheartening panorama of spending years on dialysis.  At only 36 years old, Ms. Dorin had a promising job at a software company and dreams of building a family.  For five years, she managed her kidney disease, however, it slowly choked her endurance.  Unable to find a matching donor, she encountered a daily battle against nausea, exhaustion and depression. 

Yet, hope was not lost.  Ms. Dorin’s mother began making inquiries around the hospital when she learned about the global organ trade.  She met Boris Volfman and Yaacov Dayan, who maintain they operate legally and do not directly help clients buy organs, but for years, they have pocketed enormous sums for arranging overseas transplants for patients who are paired with foreign donors. 

While no reliable data exists, experts say thousands of patients most likely receive illicit transplants abroad each year.  An analysis of major trafficking cases since 2000 suggests that Israelis have placed a disproportionate role due to the religious strictures regarding death and desecration that have kept deceased donation rates so low patients feel they must turn elsewhere.  “When someone needs an organ transplant, they’ll do everything in their power.”

See Kevin Sack, Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica, The New York Times, Aug. 17, 2014.


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