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How much for your kidney? The rise of the global transplant tourism industry

Maclaren, Andrew C. and O'Gorman, Kevin D. and Taheri, Babak (2010) How much for your kidney? The rise of the global transplant tourism industry. In: Healthcare Travel Conference, 2010-10-01.

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Abstract

The term 'Transplant Tourism' is becoming commonly used to describe any form of travel that serves in the attainment of new organs; this practice is utterly condemned by the medical community and the World Health Organisation. Medical Tourism involves tourists travelling to, 'obtain medical, dental and surgical care while simultaneously being holidaymakers' (Connell, 2006, p. 1094). British Medical Journal (2008) highlights that Medical Tourism is a billion dollar industry, where companies advertise health services and attract patients for a fraction of the price they would have paid at home (Turner, 2008a). However, the typically legitimate Medical Tourism industry's reputation is being tarnished by its association with Transplant Tourism. Human organs used in transplantation can be obtained in two ways: live organ donation or cadaveric organ procurement (Lamb, 1990). In general, recipients prefer having living donor transplants over deceased ones, as the former offer them a better chance of survival (Steinberg, 2004). There is a worldwide struggle to meet the demand for organs; the gap between supply and demand has stimulated global organ trade and transplant tourism. Transplant Tourism has been overlooked within tourism literature and hoping to begin a debate, this note investigates the concept of Transplant Tourism, outlining why it cannot, in general, be considered a legitimate part of the Medical Tourism industry.