Monday, May 17, 2010

Organlegging Neuromancer style – China’s liver trade

Organlegging was Larry Niven’s 1970s term for trafficking in human organs. Gibson’s fiction, including the fabulous (1984!!) Neuromancer, featured Chinese organ shops. Cross organlegging with Neuromancer and fast forward to 2010.

How do people not raised on science fiction get their head around the modern world? It’s really a disability of sorts.

Since my 2006 organ trade post (see also) the market has continued to mature …

Blood & Treasure- the liver trade

Type in Baidu and search for “looking for liver, kidney” and so on words, tens of thousands of results show up, including QQ numbers*, cell phone numbers, some even operate like a company. They not only look for people willing to sell their livers and kidneys, at the same time they also advertise to provide livers and kidneys that match the patients. Reporter contacted number of organ trading brokers and found that they had a clear set of requirements, and the business also formed “one shop stop” service…

Liver segment and single kidney donation is usually survivable.

Is anyone in the US paying attention?

No, I didn’t think so.

* tencent QQ

… is the most popular free instant messaging computer program in Mainland China, and has over 856.2 million users. In April 2010, ranked 10th overall in Alexa's internet rankings. The program is maintained by Tencent Holdings Limited (HKEX: 0700), owned in part by Naspers…

I’d never learn this stuff if I didn’t have my Chinese-focused blogs to read. The mainstream media is hopelessly lost.

Update: After posting this, I revisited a link in my 2006 post to a 2004 NYT article. There I found mention of "Organs Watch" - an organization tracking the global organ trade. The web site, however is "under construction"; the notice refers to an August 2009 update that never happened. Nancy Scheper-Hughes led Organs Watch, but the last news of her is from 2008. Reading between the lines of the Wikipedia article, I wonder if she might have gone a bit off the rails ("Israel" and "tentacles" in the same sentence is a bit of a red light). She was still teaching at Berkeley in Fall 2009.

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