Third-world organ peddling.
December 2, 2000 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Third-world organ peddling. After reading an earlier thread here, I thought to myself that this couldn't be as uncommon as the press made it sound. Unfortunately, I was correct.
posted by frykitty (5 comments total)
This reminds me of Larry Niven's creepy "The Jigsaw Man", where petty criminals are chopped up for the organ banks.Niven had a term for this which seems to apply now: "organlegging". Scary, huh?
posted by Mr. skullhead at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2000

In at least one story, possibly more, the late Cordwainer Smith featured a prison/exile planet where heavily drugged inhabitants grew extra body parts, which were then harvested for use elsewhere. It's a surprisingly comic story. Cordwainer Smith also wrote a number of stories featuring genetically engineered/evolved animals with humanlike intelligence, often bred to do jobs humans found boring or distasteful. His The Rediscovery of Man, published by NESFA, is worth the effort to order. Not everything in it is great, but the stuff that is is as good as anybody's stuff. (A bonus for paranoids: He also worked in psychological operations!)
posted by jhiggy at 8:42 PM on December 2, 2000

Technically, Niven's stories on this matter had two components: legal organ harvesting, for criminals as minor as running stop lights ... and illegal organlegging, involving underground body-part marketeers who'd seize innocent citizens and spread them around before anybody was the wiser, a la auto chop shops.

Technically, however, this article fails to substantiate the horrific story implied in its opening: organs harvested unwillingly from the healthy. Indeed, it corresponds strongly with pre-existing legends about Western "child-stealers", which themselves correspond well with ancient fairy tales found in many cultures. This is just an urban legend with a modern twist.

Are there isolated incidents (e.g. the mother in Russia recently)? Sure. Is there an organized market in live donors? I think that's a pretty tall tale and you'd better have equally tall substantiation to back it up.

See Snopes for an analysis of the "kidney theft" legend. There are some serious studies of the traffic in living human slaves/"guest workers" and possibly body parts. In particular, the Soviet Union had a particular interest in spreading disinformation about alleged Western organ trafficking and the few badly-sourced articles have been rewritten and rerun a zillion times.

While as noted I'm sure you can find examples, I don't find the above-referenced "freezerbox" article to be authoritative.
posted by dhartung at 10:13 PM on December 2, 2000

I'm cautious of giving too much respect to stories like this, because it easily becomes racist. My Economics class had a lesson on "Chinese people want to steal your organs!"
posted by dagnyscott at 7:08 PM on December 3, 2000

i believe everything i read on the internet.
posted by palegirl at 8:10 PM on December 3, 2000

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