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How Much Is Your Body Worth on The Black Organ Market?
How Much Is Your Body Worth on The Black Organ Market

And if commercial transplantation is put a price tag, have you wondered how much does your body worth?

Black Market organ prices might surprise you. That's because some body parts are worth an astounding amount of money while others fetch a much lower price than you'd probably guess.

Due to the difficulty of making it to the top of the applicable organ transplant list in time, some organs used in surgeries come from the Black Market, or what the World Health Organization calls the "international organ trade" via "transplant tourism" or even human trafficking.

What is organ trafficking?

There are a lot of definitions for organ trafficking or also called organ trading but one of the most common definition is from the World Health Organization. Based on their definition organ trade is a commercial transplantation where there is a profit, or also transplantations that occur outside of the national medical systems.

Especially illegal organ trade is defined as a situation that occurs when organs are removed from the body for the purpose of commercial transactions which is not the case when transplanting a body part via the national medical system.

The amount of illegal organ trafficking is not clear as there are no official statistics about it however studies estimating that anywhere from five to 42 percent of transplanted organs are illicitly purchased. There are also no official numbers on black market turnover for illegal transplanted organs, but different studies come to an estimation of profits between $600 million and $1.2 billion per year.

How Much Are Your Body Parts Worth?

Basically, human life is priceless, but there are places in this world where you can give life a price tag.

Depending on your body part or organ, the average price you get for your innards on the black market is about the following. When it comes to prices, it’s obviously better to think twice about whether you want to sell something of your body as you would not really earn that much.

Organ / Body Part Price
Both Eyes 1.500 $
Skull without teeth 1.200 $
Coronary arteries 1.500 $
Shoulder 500 $
Liver 157.000 $
Heart 120.000 $
Hand and forearm 385 $
Stomach 500 $
Spleen 500 $
One liter of blood 300 $
Kidney 250.000 $
Intestine 2.500 $
Gallbladder 1.200$

Why is there a black market for organs and body parts?

The answer to this question is actually quite simple. If the demand is big enough, then there is someone who will try to satisfy that demand. And so it is on the black market for organs. In the USA alone, there are over 113,000 people a year waiting for an organ transplant. In contrast, only 18,000 organs were donated in 2012.

According to the National Kidney Foundation the average wait time in the U.S. for a kidney is 3.6 years. In contrast in Canada, it is estimated that the average wait time for a kidney is between four to five years with some people even waiting as long as 7 years. In the U.K. the wait times is the shortest compared to the USA and Canada with on average two to three years.

Desperately hoping for organs to be transplanted, people are willing to spend big money on the black market to get a life-saving organ. Especially as on average, 18 people die every day while waiting for their transplant you might understand the reason for reaching out to the black market.

The most prominent organ that is traded illicitly is the human kidney, with estimation of the World Health Organization saying that 10,000 kidneys are traded on the black market worldwide annually which equals more than one every hour.

What are your Organs Worth on the Black Market - 2022/2023

How Much Is Your Body Worth on The Black Organ Market?

Kidneys - $250,000

Kidneys are by far the most popular organ on the Black Market. Therefore, it's not surprising that they're also one of the most expensive things to illegally purchase. At approximately $250,000, most people who need a kidney transplant due to medical issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes won't be able to afford it.

In 2013, only 16,896 kidney transplants were performed in the US while over 100,000 people were on the waiting list for the surgery.

Liver - $157,000

As of 2015, approximately 30,000 Americans die each year from chronic liver diseases. Waiting for a transplant often takes too long, and the cost of this surgery is also very prohibitive for many patients. Turning to the Black Market makes it cheaper and easier to find a replacement liver. If you were to sell your liver today, it would bring in about $157,000.

Heart - $119,000

Legal heart donations require $997,700 dollars, which is a major chunk of the estimated $1.4 million fee associated with heart transplant surgery.

Most people don't have over $1 million available to save their life, and the Black Market makes the process much more affordable. An illegally obtained heart is worth $119,000, which makes the price of a legal heart seem like the true crime.

Corneas - $30,000

Corneas are reportedly worth $30,000 via the Black Market and usually come from corpses. But if someone sells your corneas after you die, you're not going to enjoy that money.

Bone Marrow - $3,000

Donating a gram of bone marrow is the quickest way to obtain at least $3,000 legally, though it's difficult to be the correct genetic match.

Eggs - $5,000 - $50,000

The legal donors can be compensated between $5,000 to $35,000, or even up to $50,000 through special donation agencies, according to some sources. The fee depends on the perceived appeal of the donor: health, physical appearance, ethnicity, education, and intelligence level. The process, however, is painful and risky.

Bones And Ligaments - $5,000

Bones and ligaments are typically stolen from corpses. A whole corpse goes for about $5,000, so the price of a bone is a fraction of that.

Coronary Artery - $1,500

Heart disease is one of the most common ailments a person can develop. There are numerous surgeries utilized to help this issue, ranging from a coronary bypass to a heart transplant.

Although coronary artery transplants don't happen, there's still some demand for this particular body part. In fact, selling this artery can bring in an average of $1,525.

Small Intestine - $2,500

The estimated street value is $2,519. For comparison, getting a new intestine through legal means will cost up to $1.1 million, though this also covers the expensive cost of the transplant surgery as well.

Skulls With Teeth - $1,200

In many cases, items procured via the Black Market are not used for human transplantation. Instead, body parts such as the spleen, gallbladder, and shoulder are more likely to end up in the hands of a medical researcher or someone who collects oddities. A human skull that still contains all of its teeth serves as another prime example. Currently, people who possess one of these desirable objects can sell it for $1,200.

Why do people sell their organs?

Not everyone sells his organs voluntarily. In the last 25 years, just in the US more than 1,700 cases have been reported in which people have been attacked and one of their body parts was stolen. But the organ harvesting doesn’t always take place the way you might imagine it from Hollywood movies.

Instead, dead people are robbed more often than living people. For doing this criminals work closely together with morticians and pay them a share, in order to remove the body parts from corpses. Of course, the families of the deceased are not told anything about it and since they almost never want to see the body again, the whole process is only rarely noticed.

When did organ trafficking start?

A precise starting date cannot be determined however it is assumed that organ trafficking and organ harvesting started in the 1980s in India. Low costs and a high availability brought in worldwide demand, and transformed India into the world largest kidney transplant centers.

Shortly after also incidents in Pakistan, the Philippines, Egypt and China were recorded. Since then more and more countries are suspected to be linked with some kind of organ trade.

Especially in modern days kidnapping people, murdering them and harvesting their organs becomes a worldwide phenomenon and is not just limited anymore to developing countries whose hospitals are advanced enough to offer transplant services. Also, in developed countries like the USA and United Kingdom cases of organ trafficking became popular.

Where does organ trafficking happen nowadays?

Unfortunately, the reality is that organ trafficking is without exception happening all around the globe. However, there are countries where organ trading and also organ harvesting is more common than in other countries. Especially in Indonesia, China, India, South Africa, Angola, Ecuador, Georgia, Libya, Russia and Brazil more documented cases have shown up than anywhere else.

Map of countries where organ trading and harvesting is more common than in other countries
Map of countries where organ trading and also organ harvesting is more common than in other countries. Photo:

Why is organ selling illegal?

There is still an ongoing ethical debate on organ trade and whether or not people have an inherent right to sell their own organs. Most democratic countries have an implied ethical right that everybody can decide what happens to his body however the potential harm of organ trade outweighs the rights of an inpidual which is the reason that organ trafficking is not allowed in most countries.

One of the main argument made in favor of legalized organ trading is that it would increase the number of organs available for transplantation but it is questionable if legalizing payments for selling your organs would encourage more people to donate their organs or would just put poor people into financial exploitation which cannot be undone. Such a decision to sell cannot be regarded as truly voluntary and it is therefore assumed that the government has to protect poor people by prohibiting the sale of organs.

Are there countries where it is legal to sell organs?

Currently Iran is the only nation worldwide that allows organs to be bought and sold for money however this is only limited to buying and selling kidneys with prices ranging from $2,000 to $4,000. Reason for that is that due to a missing infrastructure to maintain an efficient organ transplant system during the early 80’s, Iran legalized living non-related donation of kidneys in 1988.

Very important point however is that in an attempt to limit transplant tourism the market for buying and selling a kidney is contained only within the country which means that foreigners are not allowed to buy the organs of Iranian citizens. It is even required that organ transplantation can only happen between people of the same nationality meaning an Iranian is not allowed to purchase a kidney from a refugee from another country.

Proponents of legalized organ trade are hailing the Iranian system as an example of an effective and safe organ trading model but there is no evidence that this model will spread to other countries in the near future. Especially the fact that over 70 percent of donors are poor and that there is no short-term or long-term medical follow-up of organ donors is a common point of criticism of that system, according to Fun Off Facts.

Did FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell use to purchase liver for Eric Abidal?

In surely one of the most bizarre stories of recent weeks, former FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell was forced to deny claims he illegally purchased a human liver for ex-defender Eric Abidal in 2012, after a report in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial claimed police had intercepted phone calls of Rosell allegedly admitting the purchase, stated Independent.

A statement by FC Barcelona flatly denied the allegations, and pointed out that a Catalan court had shelved an investigation into the matter in 2017. Further firm denials were issued by Abidal and the hospital in which he underwent surgery, while Spain’s National Transplant Organisation also came forward to confirm that the operation was performed in accordance with the law.

In this case it appears clear that the transplant was legal, but the incident does shine a spotlight on commercial organ transplantation and the murky worldwide black market for human organs.

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