By Sarah Townsend
Donor shortages in one of the world’s six biggest organ importers reportedly fuel lucrative underground trade
A shortage of donors and long surgery wait times are forcing Omani patients to travel overseas and buy organs on the black market, local media have claimed.
Many patients are then undergoing illegal surgeries and putting their lives at risk, according to Times of Oman.
It is common to spend a minimum of OMR20,000 ($52,000) to purchase a kidney on the black market in countries such as Pakistan and China, the newspaper reported, citing doctors in Oman.
However, because renowned practitioners refuse to be involved in black market surgeries, operations are performed by inexperienced “surgeons” in underground locations such as abandoned houses and basements.
Dr Sadiq Abdul Baqi, senior consultant nephrologist at Oman’s Royal Hospital, was quoted as saying: “Omani patients are being exploited by corrupted dealers who defy laws in countries like Pakistan and China.”
“They commit many mistakes which can lead to the death of a patient. I have seen many disasters, such as, patients with surgical complications and infections due to poor hygienic measures. Many patients have died,” he added.
Oman is one of the six major organ importers in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with Pakistan topping the list of countries exporting organs to the sultanate in 2003 – the last year for which robust figures are publicly available – followed by Iran and India.
In some cases, dealers cashing in from donors as well as recipients trick their patients and undergo fake surgeries without implanting any organ, according to Dr Badria Al Ghaithi, senior consultant at pediatric nephrology at the Royal Hospital, the newspaper said.