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Saturday, 10 October, 1998, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Internet organ racket uncovered
Surgery
The global trade in human organs is on the rise
Italian police have arrested a United States citizen in Rome in connection with the sale of human organ parts on the Internet, according to Italian police reports.

A 48-year-old man from Los Angeles was arrested in a sting operation by Italian police posing as buyers.

Police were alerted by an Italian doctor who was accidentally sent an email in March offering a kidney for 30 million Italian lire ($19,000).

Subsequent investigations uncovered a Website offering human hearts and pancreas glands for sale at undisclosed prices, in what appeared to be part of an international network smuggling human organs.

The international collection and sale of human parts is becoming a major worldwide industry.

As organ transplantation, reproductive technology, and genetic manipulation of blood and cells becomes more sophisticated, body parts including blood, organs, cells and genes have become extremely valuable.

Responding to public pressure, many western nations have restricted the sale of human parts.

This has resulted in the Third World becoming the central focus of body part entrepreneurs.

In February, two Chinese nationals - one of them a former prosecutor - were arrested for charged with selling the organs of executed prisoners.

The Chinese authorities have repeatedly denied accusations that there is a black market in body parts taken from people in jail.

See also:

30 Jul 98 | Science/Nature
25 Sep 98 | Health
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