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Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism: The Role of Global Professional Ethical Standards—The 2008 Declaration of Istanbul

Danovitch, Gabriel M.; Chapman, Jeremy; Capron, Alexander M.; Levin, Adeera; Abbud-Filho, Mario; Al Mousawi, Mustafa; Bennett, William; Budiani-Saberi, Debra; Couser, William; Dittmer, Ian; Jha, Vivek; Lavee, Jacob; Martin, Dominique; Masri, Marwan; Naicker, Saraladevi; Takahara, Shiro; Tibell, Annika; Shaheen, Faissal; Anantharaman, Vathsala; Delmonico, Francis L.

doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e318295ee7d
Editorials and Perspectives: Special Feature

By 2005, human organ trafficking, commercialization, and transplant tourism had become a prominent and pervasive influence on transplantation therapy. The most common source of organs was impoverished people in India, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines, deceased organ donors in Colombia, and executed prisoners in China. In response, in May 2008, The Transplantation Society and the International Society of Nephrology developed the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism consisting of a preamble, a set of principles, and a series of proposals. Promulgation of the Declaration of Istanbul and the formation of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group to promote and uphold its principles have demonstrated that concerted, strategic, collaborative, and persistent actions by professionals can deliver tangible changes. Over the past 5 years, the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group organized and encouraged cooperation among professional bodies and relevant international, regional, and national governmental organizations, which has produced significant progress in combating organ trafficking and transplant tourism around the world. At a fifth anniversary meeting in Qatar in April 2013, the DICG took note of this progress and set forth in a Communiqué a number of specific activities and resolved to further engage groups from many sectors in working toward the Declaration’s objectives.

1 David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.

2 Renal Medicine, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.

3 Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

4 University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

5 Institute of Urology and Nephrology and Medical School, FAMERP/HB-FUNFARME, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

6 Hamed Al-essa Organ Transplant Center, Safat, Kuwait.

7 Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital and Health Center, Portland, OR.

8 Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions, Bethesda, MD.

9 University of Washington School of Medicine, Woodinville, WA.

10 Department of Renal Medicine, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand.

11 Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Department of Nephrology, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India.

12 Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Heart Transplantation Unit, Leviev Heart Center, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel.

13 Centre for Health and Society, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia.

14 Transmedical for Life Research Institute, Sin El Fil, Beirut, Lebanon.

15 Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

16 Department of Advanced Technology for Transplantation, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.

17 Division of Transplantation Surgery, Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

18 Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

19 Department of Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

20 Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital Transplant Center, Boston, MA.

21 Address correspondence to: Gabriel M. Danovitch, M.D., David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 10833 Le Conte Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90095.

The authors declare no funding or conflicts of interest.


All authors are members of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group and contributed to the concepts and recommendations expressed in the article. G.M.D., J.C., A.M.C., and F.L.D. wrote and corrected the drafts. All other authors reviewed and commented on the drafts.

Received 25 February 2013. Revision requested 11 March 2013.

Accepted 5 April 2013.

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