TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE
Thousands of people around the world are in desperate need of kidney transplants. Demand for healthy organs, especially kidneys, vastly outstrips supply—some people wait for years before an appropriate donor emerges. As a result, an active international black market for body parts has emerged. Ric Esther Bienstock’s Tales from The Organ Trade (2013)—narrated by David Cronenberg—pierces the veil of this clandestine world of organ harvesting. Tales from The Organ Trade is built around the stories of three North Americans who are either seeking organ transplants or have received transplants via the black market. Their experiences are contrasted with those of donors, doctors, and others around the world. Manila has an active organ trade in which poor people sell their body parts for a few thousand dollars in order to raise themselves out of poverty. In Europe, organ trafficking is a far more complicated and lucrative enterprise. Bienstock and her crew track down one of the key figures in the business: Dr. Yusuf Sonmez, who is alternately known as Dr. Vulture and the Turkish Frankenstein. Somnez is the brains behind black market organ clinics in Yugoslavia and Turkey. Along with a team of top-flight physicians and fixers, he charges willing patients $100K for transplants. His activities have drawn the ire of law enforcement and medical ethicists. Tales from The Organ Trade ties all of these interconnected threads together into a grim yet thoughtful investigation of the intersection between life, death and commerce.