Organ transplantation is one of the life-saving medical breakthroughs of the 20th century.
Over the years, growing renal transplant waiting lists and a discrepancy in organ supply and demand have marked this accomplishment and given rise to a network of illegal traffickers who exploit the vulnerability of patients desperately waiting for a life-saving transplant.
While illegal transplantation may seem like a “win-win” for the recipient in need of a kidney and a donor in need of money, the long-term effects are devastating to both parties and negatively impacts healthcare systems.
The Declaration of Istanbul (DoI) calls on the medical community, especially transplant surgeons and nephrologists, to join the World Health Organization (WHO) in putting pressure on Health Ministries with a transplantation program to eliminate organ trafficking and transplant tourism.
The DoI is promoted, implemented, and upheld by the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group (DICG).
For more information, please visit the Declaration of Istanbul website.
In 2008, in Turkey, the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and The Transplantation Society (TTS) brought together transplant, legal, and bioethical experts representing 180 countries, to discuss the issues surrounding organ trafficking and transplant tourism. Collectively, they prepared a document named the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism (DoI) to guide doctors, transplant centers, ministries of health, and policymakers on how to prevent organ trafficking and illegal travel for transplants.
The DoI framework provides ethical guidance for global organ donation and transplantation practices and ensures donor and recipient safety.
Though the DoI is not a legally binding document, it has gained authority through the voluntary adherence to its principles by professional and governmental bodies and from being directly incorporated into national laws and regulations: 180 national and international professional organizations and local governments have publicly endorsed the principles of the DoI.
The ISN has also set up a group to guide activities and help governments, as well as the medical and patient community, to fight this problem.
In 2018, following a broad public consultation, the DoI was reviewed and updated to ensure that it provides clear and current guidance for policymakers and health professionals working in organ donation and transplantation.
From the DICG:
- The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism [2018 Edition]
- DICG Statement Regarding Payments to Families of Deceased Organ Donors
- Statement of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group Concerning Ethical Objections to the Proposed Global Kidney Exchange Program
- Procurement of Organs from Executed Prisoners