The image went viral in Thailand. Doctors have expressed concern that it will lead to imitation. It is difficult to estimate the actual number of organ trafficking cases in Southeast Asia.
Bangkok () – Selling an organ of one’s own body to buy the latest iPhone model. A cosmetic surgery clinic in Laos published on the networks the provocative image of three young people holding a smartphone of the well-known brand in one hand and with the other showing bloody bandages that would suggest the removal of an organ (see photo)
On September 10, the post went viral in Thailand, which although it made many smile, it also provoked strong criticism for fear that it could trigger imitation processes. For a long time, the idea has been spreading in the country that you can access the purchase of luxury items or cosmetic surgery treatments by accepting the removal of a kidney, which according to experts is paid up to 30 thousand dollars in the illegal market of organs. Therefore, it would no longer be a question of donations motivated by the need to obtain for oneself or the family what is necessary to live, but of a decision aimed at exhibiting greater wealth or achieving greater visibility.
Dr. Sophon Mekhton, a representative of the Thai Red Cross that coordinates the transplant system in the country, warned about the risks, even criminal, of this practice, which he described not only as “deceitful”, but also “immoral and unethical”. “.
However, the launch of the iPhone 14 seems to have revived both interest and concern, in an economic and social situation that has been distorted by the crisis caused by Covid-19 and is a fertile ground for criminal activities. Indeed, organ trafficking in Thailand is still very active: the country is a base of operations and transit for specialized criminal organizations and a center for donors, who in many cases are citizens of neighboring countries such as Cambodia.
Thai law prohibits donation except between relatives and on an altruistic basis, but several cases point to the existence of an area of illegality that exploits structures within the country or abroad that lend themselves to such activities, taking advantage of the needs induced by the pandemic and a growing demand for organs.
On the other hand, not always, removal and donation are done voluntarily. The 2020 report on human trafficking of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirmed last August, at the conclusion of the agency’s regional coordination meeting, that Thailand continues to be exposed to the phenomenon of harvesting of organs from victims of trafficking, with the number of cases increasing. The true magnitude of the phenomenon, warns the UN Office, escapes the statistics but could be much higher than the identified cases.