Is It a Crime? What You Need to Know about Organ Harvesting

Is It a Crime? What You Need to Know about Organ Harvesting

Organ harvesting is probably one of the most searched words in Nigeria at the moment, following the arrest of Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, in the United Kingdom.

The former deputy Senate president and his wife were arraigned on charges relating to conspiracy to traffic a child to the United Kingdom in order to harvest organs.

Ike Ekweremadu/Organ Harvesting/United Kingdom
Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, have been arrested and charged for bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting. Photo credit: Ike Ekweremadu
Source: Facebook

They were denied bail by the Uxbridge Magistrate court on Thursday, June 23, and have been remanded till July 7.

What is organ harvesting?

Organ harvesting is described as removing an organ from one person (the donor) and surgically placing it in another (the recipient) whose organ has failed.

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Organs that can be removed from one person and transplanted to another include:

Organs and tissues that can be transplanted, according to Cleveland Clinic, include:

  • Liver.
  • Kidney.
  • Pancreas.
  • Heart.
  • Lung.
  • Intestine.
  • Corneas.
  • Middle ear.
  • Skin.
  • Bone.
  • Bone marrow.
  • Heart valves.
  • Connective tissue.
  • Vascularized composite allografts (transplant of several structures that may include skin, uterus, bone, muscles, blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue).

Who can donate an organ?

It is gathered that people of all ages are considered potential donors.

"When a person dies, they are evaluated for donor suitability based on their medical history and age. The organ procurement organisation determines medical suitability for donation," according to Cleveland Clinic.

Is organ harvesting illegal?

Trafficking of tissue and organs is illegal in the UK. Legal donation of organs can only take place following a person’s consent.

The UK Metropolitan police defined organ harvesting as the illegal removal of a person's internal organs which can then be sold.

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However, in order to save lives, the UK has a law in place that states that citizens will be considered that they agree to become organ donors when they die, if:

  • They are over 18;
  • They have not opted out;
  • They are not in an excluded group.

Organ harvesting: Ekweremadu, wife risk life imprisonment under UK law

Meanwhile, Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, may face life imprisonment if found guilty and convicted of the maximum sentence under the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA 2015).

The London metropolitan police said the investigation was launched on the duo after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.

MSA 2015 frowns at human trafficking, under which organ harvesting falls, and is punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction.


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