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Event Details

Panel Presentation:

   “Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism -
       Consequences in a Global Environment”

Wednesday, March 25th,
4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Malkin Penthouse, 4th floor, Littauer Center,
Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
organ trafficking in India

Video Coverage Now Available.

The Panel:
  • Luc Noel, MD, World Health Organization
  • Francis Delmonico, MD, Harvard Medical School
  • Daniel Wikler, Ph.D., Harvard School of Public Health
  • Mary Simmerling, Ph.D., Weill Medical College, Cornell University
Related Links: Follow-Up Information:

Co-Sponsored with the Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Event Description

An increasing worldwide demand for organs has created "transplant tourism" and with it, an unregulated organ bazaar. The Istanbul Declaration, the only universal agreement of its kind on organ transplantation, has laid the groundwork to curtail transplant tourism and trafficking and create international standards to ensure safe and accountable transplant surgery for both donors and recipients. In every country around the world except Iran, the exchange of human organs for cash or a "valuable commodity" to the donor is illegal. In the United States, some are proposing that organ sales should be allowed. What are the arguments surrounding the sale of organs? Where does organ trafficking fit in the human trafficking and modern-day slavery issue? What are possible solutions to organ shortage? How are public policy leaders around the world addressing organ trafficking? Please join the Carr Center and the Division of Global Health and Human Rights at Massachusetts General Hospital for a panel discussion on this growing human rights crisis.

Light refreshments provided.

Speaker Biographies:

Francis Delmonico, MD

Dr. Francis L. Delmonico, MD was born in New York.  He received a Doctor of Medicine degree from George Washington University.  His initial general surgical training was under the direction of pioneer transplant surgeon Dr. David Hume at the Medical College of Virginia.  In 1974, Dr. Delmonico interrupted his general surgical training to complete a two-year Clinical and Research Fellowship in Transplantation at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  He then returned to the Medical College of Virginia to continue his general surgical residency training, which he completed in 1978 as Chief Resident in Surgery.

After serving for two years in the United States Navy as a Staff Surgeon at Walter Reed Medical Center, an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, and as Ship's Surgeon on the USS Independence, Dr. Delmonico was recruited to MGH in 1980 as a member of the Transplantation Unit of the Department of Surgery.  He was promoted to Visiting Surgeon (MGH's highest surgical title) in 1997 and to Professor of Surgery at the Harvard Medical School in 2000. From 1990 until 2004 he was the Director of the Renal Transplantation Service at MGH.  Dr. Delmonico was a member of the Subcommittee on Human Research (Committee on Research) of MGH, its Institutional Review Board for clinical investigation from 2001 to 2004.

Dr. Delmonico has devoted most of his research efforts at the Massachusetts General Hospital to clinical investigation. In the early part of his career, he focused upon the management of recipient immunosuppression and more recently upon the clinical parameters which define the suitable organ donor.
Dr. Delmonico was appointed Medical Director of the New England Organ Bank (NEOB) in 1995.  He was awarded a Department of Health and Human Services Grant as the Principal Investigator of a project to study the acceptance of kidneys recovered from deceased expanded criteria donors. Dr. Delmonico has served as the Medical Advisor to the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations.

As Director of Educational Activities for the Transplantation Center at MGH, Dr. Delmonico has had a significant role in the teaching of medical students, house officers, and postdoctoral fellows during his tenure. He has been an invited lecturer and Visiting Professor in numerous cities and universities throughout the world. Dr Delmonico has authored or co-authored more than 250 publications, either as original articles, reviews, commentaries or book chapters. His original writings have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New York Times. Dr. Delmonico is also an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Transplantation and reviewer for many medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of the American Association of Nephrology, and Surgery. He is a current member of the Editorial Board of Transplantation, Kidney International and Clinical Transplantation. He has appeared on numerous television and radio programs including Nightline, Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning America and NPR news.

Dr. Delmonico has been a Board Member of the American Society of Transplantation (AST) and is the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Delmonico served on the Council of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) and as the Chairman of the ASTS Ethics Committee. As Chairman of the Ethics Committee of The Transplantation Society (International), Dr. Delmonico convened an International Forum on the live Kidney donor in Amsterdam the Netherlands, in 2004, and on the liver lung, liver, intestine and pancreas donor in Vancouver Canada, in 2005, with participation of over 100 physicians and surgeons from 44 countries. He chaired the Istanbul Summit, with over 150 healthcare professionals, officials, scientists, ethicists and legal scholars from 78 countries and 20 international organizations. This effort culminated in the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism.

Dr. Delmonico is Director of Medical Affairs of The Transplantation Society. He works closely with the World Health Organization; he has been appointed as an expert WHO consultant on human organ transplantation. These appointments constitute the major aspect of his current efforts.

operating room

Luc Noël, MD

Luc Noël, MD was born in Nancy France. He received his medical degree from the University of Grenoble and specialized in clinical biology, haematology and blood transfusion in Lyon and Paris. He is a French public hospital practitioner who was in charge of the Haematology and Transfusion Centre of Versailles hospital when he was recruited in 1992 to contribute to the establishment of the French Blood Agency following the tainted blood affair. As a consultant he contributed to the reorganization of the French Transfusion Service culminating in a single national blood transfusion organisation, the Etablissement français du sang. In particular he contributed to setting up the system of vigilance and surveillance of adverse reactions known as haemovigilance and to optimizing the clinical use of blood components.

In 1999, Dr Noël was appointed by WHO as Coordinator Blood Transfusion Safety. In 2004 he was charged with a new unit, Clinical Procedures (CPR), responsible "for ensuring efficacy, safety and equity in the provision of clinical procedures in surgery, anaesthetics, obstetrics and orthopaedics, particularly at the district hospital level". The CPR unit in the Department of Essential Health Technologies in the cluster of Health Systems and Services, is also "in charge of promoting the appropriate effective and safe use of cell, tissue and organ transplantation, including surveillance of risks, in particular in xenotransplantation trials.” A global meeting organized in Madrid in November 2003 with the support of the Government of Spain had indeed led to Resolution WHA57.18 of the 57th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2004 which revived the topic of transplantation at WHO. It had been dormant since 1991when the WHO Guiding Principles were endorsed by the 44th WHA.

In the last 5 years, WHO, with the help of Member States and civil society, including the scientific and professional community, have worked at raising awareness of access, safety and ethical issues in cell, tissue and organ transplantation.  An extensive global consultation process resulted in the revision and updating of the Guiding Principles. Consequently, several Member States have taken legislative and enforcement measures in particular against the dangers of financial gain from human cells, tissues and organs, as such, epitomized by transplantation tourism and organ trafficking.

Mary Simmerling, Ph.D.

Mary Simmerling is the Assistant Dean for Research Integrity and an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University.  She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Illinois and completed a Fellowship in Clinical Medical Ethics in the University of Chicago's MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Mary's academic work focuses primarily on issues related to research ethics, medical ethics, and human rights. She has presented more than 30 invited talks and has published articles, chapters, reviews, and commentaries on these topics. She is an advisor on the anti-trafficking project in the Initiative to End Slavery (IES) at the Massachusetts General Hospital's Division of Global Health and Human Rights, and an ethics advisor for The Voices and Faces Project.

Daniel Wikler, Ph.D.

Daniel Wikler, Ph.D., is Mary B. Saltonstall Professor of Population Ethics in the Department of Population and International Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. He served as  the first “staff ethicist” at the World Health Organization in Geneva, working with WHO health programs on ethical issues arising in departments throughout the organization, including health resource allocation, research involving human subjects, and genetics. While at WHO, Professor Wikler directed an international collaboration among philosophers and economists on ethical, methodological, and philosophical issues raised by WHO’s work in measurement of the global burden of disease and in developing methods for improving health resource allocation.

At Harvard, Prof. Wikler joined with colleagues across the campus in creating the Harvard Program in Ethics and Health, a university-wide program that focuses on ethical issues involving health that arise at the population and international levels. Other Harvard affiliations include the Harvard Ph.D. Program in Health Policy, The Harvard Center for Ethics, and the Harvard Program in Ethical Issues in International Health Research.

Prof. Wikler was co-founder and second president of the International Association of Bioethics, which places particular emphasis on developing countries, and President of the American Association of Bioethics. He has been Honorary Fellow in the Bioethics Faculty of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, and fellow of the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Leverhulme Trust. His published work addresses many issues in bioethics, focusing in recent years on population health, including ethical issues in resource allocation and in global public health. Along with three fellow philosophers, he is author of From Chance to Choice: Genes and Justice, published by Cambridge University Press.


Video Coverage:

Coverage of this event is broken into parts:
       part 1   
  • Introductory Remarks, Dr. Francis Delmonico
  • Presentation by Luc Noel, MD
  • Presentation by Mary Simmerling, Ph.D.
     Runtime: 43:24
     part 2  
  • Presentation by Daniel Wikler, Ph.D.
  • Presentation by Francis Delmonico, MD.
  Runntime: 37:21
To view the video, simply click the links above.
Part 1 may also be viewed in the embedded player below.

Please Note: The information contained in the live lectures and webinar presentations posted at this site do not necessarily represent the views of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School, or Harvard University. Lectures and presentations represent a diversity of viewpoints and research. These lectures and webinar presentations are for educational purposes only. The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard University are not responsible for any content included in the lectures and webinar presentations, and these materials may not be reproduced without written permission.
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