Doctors and nurses suspected of operating in a “large criminal network specialised in trading human organs” were detained by Egyptian authorities alongside 12 others, according to the interior ministry earlier this week.
According to a statement by the interior ministry the network allegedly agreed with Egyptians to transfer some of their organs to foreign patients in exchange for large sums of money and by doing so “exploited people’s financial need,” the interior ministry said, noting three doctors, four nurses, three hospital workers and two agents were detained.
The doctors and nurses that were detained were reportedly arrested “while they were carrying out an operation to remove the kidneys and part of the liver of a citizen in a private hospital” in the Giza province of Cairo.
According to the ministry the man sold his organs for $10,000. The hospital has been closed pending an investigation.
The organ black market has become increasingly popular for many Egyptians living in abject poverty who often sell their kidneys or livers in a desperate move just to be able to pay for food or pay off their debts, according to the United Nations.Earlier this year two Saudi brothers were detained in Egypt after they were arrested for their involvement in the country’s organ black market. One of the brothers was reportedly in Egypt for a kidney transplant after paying $75,000 for the kidney from a donor in a deal approved by the Saudi embassy in Cairo despite kidney purchases being illegal in Egypt.
Despite this, kidneys on the black market can cost up to to $100,000 and are often obtained from donors or migrants trafficked into the country who desperately want to reach Europe.
Egypt was ranked amongst the top five countries in illegal organ trade according to the World Health Organisation. In the same year Cairo approved a law that year banning commercial trade in organs as well as transplants between Egyptians and foreigners with the exception of transplants between husbands and wives.