The illegal organ trade around the world is booming, with almost 11,000 organs bought on the black market in 2010, according to a World Health Organization estimate. That works out to more than one per hour, calculates the Guardian; it takes a specific look at kidneys, which make up some 70% of the organs in question. Much of the kidney trade occurs in China, India, and Pakistan, where an operation can cost a needy patient up to $200,000, although the gangs often behind the surgeries pay people as little as $5,000 in exchange for their much-needed organ.
There were nearly 107,000 organ transplants in 2010—an amount that covers just 10% of global need—and World Health officials and other medical experts estimate 10% of those transplants were done with organs acquired on the black market. Some 73,179 kidneys are known to have been legally and illegally transplanted, as surging numbers of people suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. "It's ever growing, it's a constant struggle," said a WHO official who monitors the illicit trade of organs. "The stakes are so big, the profit that can be made so huge, that the temptation is out there." (For those looking for legal kidneys, it turns out Facebook is a good source.)