As Europeans grapple with economic misery, illegal organ sales are on the rise, with desperate sellers willing to part with kidneys, corneas, bone marrow, and even lungs. "When you need to put food on the table, selling a kidney doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice," says an unemployed Serbian man who hopes his kidney will bring in $40,000; he's been advertising its sale online for the last six months. Internet ads spotted across Italy, Spain, Greece, and Russia, meanwhile, offer lungs for sale for as much as $250,000, the New York Times reports. "Unscrupulous traffickers" are turning toward Europe as well, the paper adds, ready to profit off of the continent's economic woes.
"Organized criminal groups are preying upon the vulnerable on both sides of the supply chain: people suffering from chronic poverty, and desperate and wealthy patients who will do anything to survive," says a European Union prosecutor. Indeed, WHO figures show that just 10% of those in need are getting transplants. Between 15,000 and 20,000 kidneys sell on the black market worldwide yearly, analysts note; until recently, organs had typically come from China, India, the Philippines, and Brazil. The Times shares the harrowing story of one couple trying to sell their kidneys; click to read.