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Doctors and nurses arrested in Egypt organ-trading network

Twelve people were detained for their suspected involvement in the network [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 August, 2017

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Egyptian authorities arrested 12 people including doctors and nurses suspected of belonging to a "large criminal network specialised in trading human organs," the interior ministry said on Tuesday.
Doctors and nurses suspected of belonging to a "large criminal network specialised in trading human organs" were among 12 people detained by Egyptian authorities, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

The network "agreed with Egyptians to transfer some of their organs to foreign patients in exchange for large sums of money, exploiting people's financial need," the interior ministry said, noting three doctors, four nurses, three hospital workers and two agents were detained.

Some were arrested "while they were carrying out an operation to remove the kidneys and part of the liver of a citizen in a private hospital" in the Giza province, part of Greater Cairo.

The man had sold the organs for $10,000 (8,500 euros). Those operating on him were planning to implant the organs in a patient, the ministry said.

It did not give further details on the man's condition or say when the arrests took place, but added that the hospital had been closed pending an investigation.

Hundreds of poor Egyptians sell their kidneys and livers each year to be able to buy food or pay off debts, according to the United Nations.

In January, two Saudi brothers were held in Egypt for nearly two months after being accused by authorities of involvement in the country's organ black market.

Abdul Ilah al-Shabrami, 37, said he was accompanying his brother Abdullah to have a kidney transplant in the Egyptian capital, the Saudi Gazette reported.

Al-Shabrami says he paid $75,000 for a kidney from a deceased donor in a deal that was approved by the Saudi embassy in Cairo.

Kidney purchases are illegal in Egypt, while paying for transplant procedures is not, thus allowing the country's illegal trade to thrive.

According to a report published by the British Journal of Criminology last year, a kidney on Egypt's black market can fetch up to $100,000.

These illegal organs are often obtained from migrants who are trafficked into the country and are desperate to pay their way onto their next destination.

In 2010, the World Health Organisation ranked Egypt among the top five countries in the world trading illegally in organs.

Egypt's parliament passed a law that year banning commercial trade in organs as well as transplants between Egyptians and foreigners, except between husbands and wives.

The law aimed to regulate organ transplants and curb illegal trafficking and medical tourism for such operations.

In 2012, then-United Nations refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres warned that migrants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula were being killed for their organs.

Authorities in December arrested 25 people, including doctors and university professors, suspected of being part of an organ trading network.

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