File photo: An instrument for organ harvesting
File photo: An instrument for organ harvesting

Organ harvesting: When the bad overshadows the good

The word harvest or harvesting will normally evoke some positivity.

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 It is a time to reap and, or time to give in appreciation. When the farmer harvests, it is a joy for him/her to celebrate the fulfilling outcome of hard work.

And whereas a good investment brings good harvest or returns, in churches, harvest is a time to give and offer thanks to God for reaping good harvests in one’s life.  

Organ harvesting

So what is this negativity creeping into organ harvesting, otherwise a great advancement in medicine?    

A spectacular medical breakthrough, the case of organ harvesting can be positive. It is seemingly a time when the healthy willingly give so the sick, related or not, may also live. However, when the harvesting becomes non-consented, that definitely becomes a problem.

Legally, organ donation for transplant is welcome in some countries.  However, as it is the case in the United Kingdom (UK) where a case is brewing, for example, when monetary or material reward comes into the bargain, organ harvesting becomes a plot and ,therefore, a criminal act.  It is even seen as a kind of modern day slavery.

At a public symposium on human trafficking a few years back, the ugly side of organ harvesting came up strongly.  

Human trafficking

A young woman, whose story was of much interest during the discussion, spoke about human trafficking under false employment outside the country.  She referred to a time when recruitment for unskilled labour outside the country was rife.

She and several others, male and female alike, had responded to some such adverts and had been recruited locally for domestic duties specifically in the Middle East.   The package sounded too juicy to toss it over for the hairdresser apprentice job she was doing, so she went through the processes of passport and visa acquisitions. 

A few months after arrival in her new country and home, she began having regrets.  She worked longer hours into dawn, cleaning, washing and feeding cats and dogs, ate after everyone had eaten and the money she had been promised did not look meaningful anymore.  

The agent who recruited her would not answer her calls so she decided to run away. 

She ended up at a centre where other abused and rescued foreign domestic workers were being housed and awaiting deportation to their various countries.  

At the centre, she learned about organ harvesting that was going on and how some people had become victims.  She counted herself lucky that she had not forcefully ended up in hospital as some people did for their organs to be removed for monetary rewards.  

Her ordeal and that of others did not appear surprising to some participants at the symposium.  A lot of warnings had gone on in the media about those supposed foreign recruits that our youth were falling victims to and the Foreign Ministry had many times issued lots of caveats but to no heed.  

Nonetheless, to some of us, she gave fresh valuable information from the “horses own mouth”.  Who else could publicly tell it that best to the concerned bodies including UN organisations, foreign embassies, as well as the security agencies, I thought.

Her story revived some curiosity, a month ago, as the story of a wealthy Nigerian politician allegedly involved in an organ harvesting case in the UK made some headlines.  

Reported in the UK media as the first of its kind in that country, the plotting of organ harvesting is considered criminal and listed among their Modern Slavery Act.  It is said to carry a maximum life sentence. 

According to the story, the Nigerian politician and his wife plotted to save their student sick daughter’s life by harvesting the kidney of a young man they had brought from Nigeria into the UK.  

He apparently was no relation of theirs and he did not know he was brought to the UK for organ harvesting.  

However, he was promised a good life in the UK and a substantial cash amount to come with them to live in their home.   Things did not turn out that rosy for the young man, who then ran away and reported himself to the London police. 

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Missing persons

This landmark case of plotting organ harvesting linked with the story of human trafficking set me thinking.  It raises questions about unresolved missing persons and supposed ritual murders.  

Often, one hears reported cases of missing body parts from murdered victims.  The quick assumptions made sometimes are that they had been taken for ritual purposes.  

Organ harvesting, however, is bringing into the equation, a possible answer powered by the greedy agenda of some persons at the expense of others’ lives.  

That is why cases of missing persons and murdered victims with missing body parts should not be abandoned without full investigations as illicit harvesting of organs for monetary gains could also be possible causes.

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Is one stretching imaginations too wild then to ask whether unresolved missing persons are looked out for at the country’s exit borders?  

Organ harvesting is a medical breakthrough that needs to be supported.  However, evil and selfish means should not be allowed to rock the boat.   

Something for us to ponder about. E-mail: [email protected]

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