26 November, 2008


A phrase for our times

In some of his near-future stories, Larry Niven explored the implications of supplying the market for organ transplantation once the relevant medical technology had been perfected and commoditized. He predicted the development of organlegging, where, among other things, victims would be mugged not for their wallets but for their vital organs.

Now the Balkans, that cradle of creative nastiness that brought the term ethnic cleansing into our everyday language, introduces us to organ harvesting, the industrialization, or perhaps more accurately, agriculturalization of organlegging. Serbian soldiers taken prisoner by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were kept as livestock by their captors until they could be killed to order for their vital organs, which were then transplanted into paying patients.

The cynical commercial efficiency revealed by the following quote is particularly chilling:
"Victims deprived of only their first kidney were sewn up and confined again inside the shack until they were killed for their vital organs."

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