Trade in human organs and tissues

Trade in human organs and tissues is a form of human trafficking.  It refers to illegal removal, sale and purchase of organs and tissue. Trafficked organs are mainly used by patients needing an organ transplant. Shortage of legal transplants and long waiting times for organ transplant operations are the main reasons why illegal organ and tissue trade exists.

Organ donation is not always voluntary

Trade in human organs and tissues is a global problem, but it centres around relatively poor countries where hospitals are advanced enough to be able to offer organ transplantation. Buyers often come from wealthy countries from areas such as the Middle East, United States and Europe.

The most commonly trafficked organs are kidneys, as they can easily be harvested from living donators. Other possibly trafficked organs include livers and hearts.

A typical victim of trade in human organs and tissues is poor and sells his or her kidney to a middleman to get out of a difficult financial situation. In reality, the organ donor is paid only a fraction of the real price or value of the organ. Organ donation is not always voluntary, and organs can be harvested against the victim’s will. The victim may be kidnapped, drugged or killed so that his or her organs can be sold.

Trade in human organs and tissues has so far not been detected in Finland

No cases of trade in human organs and tissues have been detected in Finland. The first time the National assistance system for victims of human trafficking got a client who had fallen victim to an attempted organ trafficking abroad was in 2016. So far, the Finnish assistance system has not had any victims of organ trafficking as clients. Despite this, the possibility of organ trafficking cannot be completely excluded, especially in the case of persons coming from poor countries. Recognising the signs of organ trafficking is important so that potential victims can be directed to appropriate help services in Finland.