The Perils of Riding the Rails in Pakistan

By Sumayyah Meehan, Middle East Correspondent for Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Anyone that has ever traveled to Pakistan knows that whether you are traveling in a bus, car, or by train food vendors swarm the passengers at every stop. They carry trays full of sliced fruit, hot appetizers, fresh sandwiches and beverages. For most travelers, these vendors are a welcome relief to the long-suffering pangs of hunger they must endure while traveling through the remote villages of Pakistan. But recent reports coming out of the country show a travesty occurring on the railroads tracks of Pakistan. And the food vendors are the perpetrators along with skillful human organ traders. The scam they have come up with is to target certain passengers and sell them food, which has been laced with sedatives. The customer eats the food and is quickly incapacitated. At the next stop, another vendor will literally ‘pick up’ the passenger and take him to a remote location. At this point, the passenger’s organs are harvested. It is all up for grabs whether it is his eyes, liver, heart or lungs. The vendors and the traders do not care about the human lives they are taking but rather the almighty Rupees they are chasing. According to Gulam Amin, a Pakistani engineer who resides in Kuwait, the cases of humans being harvested on the trains are increasing. “I just returned from Pakistan and heard horrible tales of people waking up in unknown locations in Pakistan only to find incisions on their bodies,” says Gulam, “one man woke up to discover he was missing only a kidney,” he continues. Gulam explained that others never woke up at all because vital organs like the heart or lungs were harvested.

an image of a man with organs visible.

Pakistan is not alone in organ trafficking according to the World Health Organization (WHO). There are several countries combating this horrific phenomenon within their borders. China, Brazil, India and Moldova are just a few countries coming to grips with organ ‘tourism’. The WHO says that the supply of live organs is not reaching the global demand. For example, in Europe there are about 120,000 patients being kept alive on dialysis while another 40,000 are on a waiting list for a new kidney. There are just not enough humans donating organs and most patients are not comfortable receiving organs from cadavers.

Organ traders have found a lucrative commodity and will go to any lengths to get their hands on healthy organs. The brokers themselves stand to make from anywhere between $100,000 to $200,000 per customer. The trade itself is so secretive that the WHO openly admits they have limited information about this issue. The Word Health Assembly (WHA) recently made a resolution that asked the governments of the World “to take measures to protect the poorest and most vulnerable groups from ‘transplant tourism’ and the sale of tissues and organs, including attention to the wider problem of international trafficking in human tissues and organs.”

Organ Trafficking is a very real problem that is set to become a global epidemic, especially in countries where the poor and downtrodden are continuously exploited.

It is a very lucrative trade and anyone can become the latest statistic. Sometimes people are poor and agree to sell a semi-vital organ (like a kidney) for profit. Other times people can be tricked into selling an organ. But news that people are now drugging others to harvest organs is horrific. “It just goes to show how humanity is deteriorating,” laments Gulam, “now people are stealing our very lives from us.


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