Organ removal is a relatively new concept in the field of surgery. The term is used to denote a process of substitution of the injured or malfunctioning human organ with another healthy one with the help of surgery. The issue of organ removal ethically is extremely controversial and its legal nature is difficult to be traced. A number of strategies and donation models are used to cope with the problem of illegal organ trafficking.
To begin with, it should be mentioned that since 1954, organ transplantation has been recognized as an important and useful medical treatment even in the most severe cases. In 2008, the European Commission signed a range of documents, where the quality standards of organs intended for transplantation were described. Among the papers was also the Action Plan, with the help of which the EU authority strived to promote the value of living and deceased donors, enhance the number of organ donations, and guarantee the quality and security of the surgery. Besides, the Plan aimed to broad the mind of the general public, as well as the world’s most prominent doctors in the questions concerning organ removal (Special Eurobarometer 333a 4).
However, realizing the ultimate usefulness of the transplant organ procedure, one cannot deny the fact that there are too many people in the waiting list and not so many donors. In 2012, in the United States, for example, approximately 120 thousand American citizens were registered in a waiting list. At the same time, the number of organ transplants did not exceed 20 thousands (Denu). The described situation shows that there are not so many people, who will voluntarily sacrifice their organs to be removed and transplanted to another person. In most cases, only the closest members of the family or beloved partners can deliver the gift of life to their second half.
To solve the problem the governments of the countries all around the world strive to promote the legal acts of organ donation in every possible way. The “Opt-in” (alias informed consent) and “opt-out” (alias presumed consent) organ donation systems demonstrate the two drastically different legislatives concerning the process (Denu). The opt-in system depicts the conditions, when in order to become a donor, a person has to sign a range of documents. These papers will prove the voluntary basis of the donation and legalize the removal of organs from the person. On the contrary, the opt-out system assumes that all citizens are willing donors until they sign the document, which will confirm their refusal to become ones. It is obvious that in the countries with the latter form of donation legislation the rate of organ sacrifice is considerably higher in comparison with the opt-in system. In order to prove the statement, the two almost similar countries should be compared, that is Germany and Austria. According to the statistics, in Germany, where the opt-in donation system is developed, the rate of organ donations did not exceed 12% by the year 2012. At the same time, in Austria, which has the opt-out legislation, almost 100% of people were ready to become donors in case of emergency (Denu). The figures speak for themselves and promote the opt-out system. Last year the Welsh government voted for the introduction of the opt-out system and Wales became the pioneering country in the United Kingdom to change its donation system (BBC News). Currently, the US also strives to switch from the less effective opt-in to progressive opt-out donation system.
Despite the positive function of life saving organ removal has a range of serious disadvantages. First of all, there arises a question about the way one can distinguish whether the organ donation was a voluntary one or was performed under constraint. In the present days, organ removal is regarded to be a profitable business. However, the cases of illegal organ transplants increase; that means that the rate of violence against the humanity also enhances. More and more people are killed because of their organs. In China the situation is horrible. In March 2006, it was reported that more than 4 thousands of patients were killed in one of the hospitals located in the city of Shenyang. All of the victims were Falun Gong Practitioners. The reason of their death was the very desire of doctors to make money out of the human organs. Even more horrible is the fact that some organs vitally important for normal human existence were removed from the living bodies. One of the doctors confessed that he used to collect corneas from the living patients (Stop Organ Harvesting).
Another horrible effect of organ removal that is human trafficking should be discussed. Generally, victims of the organ removal process can fall roughly into the two categories. The first category includes those individuals, who were forced to part with their organs. This does not refer to the donation, which is a voluntary decision of a person, but to exactly induced organ recuperation. Another group is made up of people, who had planned to earn money on their own organ trade, but were cheated; thus, either underpaid or not paid at all. Of course, the both cases are examples of crime.
As it was already mentioned, the ethical controversy concerning the organ removal has not been eliminated yet. The brightest minds all over the world argue upon the fact whether it is humanly to take parts from one person, even if they are already dead, and give them to another to save the lives of the latter. The borderline between the positive effect of organ removal and negative one is too thin. For example, in China it is considered quite normal to harvest organs from the executed prisoners. It may sound weird, but organ trading is regarded to be a sub-product to capital punishment. Moreover, policemen and the Chinese officials are interested observers and speculators of the process of organ removal. They consciously organize the so-called “Strike Hard Campaigns”, during which thousands of people are sentenced to death punishment even for the minor misdemeanors. The purpose of the campaign is, of course, organ trading. According to the report issued by the Amnesty International in 2004, the Chinese government executed more than 15 thousands of the condemned persons. What is more shocking is that 69 percent of the criminals did not deserve such severe punishment (Glaser 20).
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that the new function of organ removal and transplantation has put the medicine on the advanced stage of the progress. However, the issue of organ transplantation is extremely controversial, especially from the ethical point of view. On the one hand, the main advantage is that the method helps to save hundreds and thousands of doomed to death people and gives them the gift of life. On the other hand, organ removal promotes the development of an illegal organ trade. The reason for this is that the number of people in the waiting-list increases and the situation causes the donation gap. This promotes the hazard, when an enormous number of human beings become the victims of the so called “black surgeons”, who simply kill the former for their organs. In order somehow to deal with the problem of black market organ trading the world’s governments operate by the two organ donation systems: opt-in and opt-out. The latter model has proved to be more effective; thus, the countries with the opt-in system strive to change it for the other one.