The Pope has invited Griffith University researcher Dr Campbell Fraser to a world summit in February on the sale of human organs on the black market – a market so lucrative it is more profitable than drug trafficking.
Dr Fraser says organ trafficking has also become a major source of terrorist funding in the Middle East.
Increasing organ donations after death holds the key to a solution, but is an area where Australia lags behind other leading nations, he asserts.
Dr Fraser, an academic at Griffith Business School, has been invited by the Vatican to address a major Summit on Organ Trafficking next month.
“We have to find sustainable and ethical ways to source organs to ensure we don’t do just as much harm as good. It’s important to consider the possible negative consequences of any action we take.”
Dr Fraser has urged Australians to join the fight against organ trafficking by committing to organ donation as a New Year’s resolution.
He highlights the turnaround that has taken place in Spain which now has the highest organ donation rate in the world. “Just a few years ago their donation rate was as bad as Australia. So it is possible to make change happen, in an ethical manner. If every country had an organ donation system as effective as Spain, then there would be no organ trafficking anywhere.”
A kidney on the black market in the Middle East sells for upwards of AU$100,000, with the seller of the organ often receiving as little as AU$2500 while risking death from surgical or infectious complications in the process.
Dr Fraser’s efforts to raise public awareness about organ trafficking – often overshadowed by human trafficking – are now capturing the attention of international organisations around the world.
“Although the Vatican represents the leadership of the Catholic Church, the anti-trafficking work they undertake is strictly non-denominational, and indeed they have invited scholars of all faiths – or of no faith – to join them in their work.”
He describes the invitation from Pope Francis as an honour, both personally and for Griffith Business School.
“It is recognition that the work we do at Griffith Business School extends far beyond the traditional boundaries of business. Organ trafficking in the Middle East has been demonstrated to be linked to terrorist funding, so by investigating the business models of each of the players in this complex environment we can, as business academics, make a major contribution to the safety and security of our communities.”
The February summit will mark an important milestone in the understanding of human organ trafficking and how it operates around the world.
“People only buy organs on the black market if they cannot obtain one through the deceased donation system. Therefore a strong message from the Vatican encouraging organ donation will be a major boost to organ donation numbers throughout the world.
“Australia currently has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the developed world, and sadly many people may wait several years on life support waiting for an organ, and may well die during this time.”