Anorak News | Liver & Let Live

Liver & Let Live

by | 8th, January 2007

PSSST! Wanna buy a liver?

Livers are rich in vitamin A. Although too much vitamin A (more than 1.5mg of vitamin A per day from food or supplements – source: Food Standards agency), might increase the risk of bone fracture. Women who are pregnant or trying for a baby also need to avoid vitamin A.

But not to worry. We can also lay our hands on a nice bit of kidney and some cornea.

And the good news is that no animals are harmed in the process. All our meat is from a sustainable human source, namely Umer Maqbool.

In the front-page news “BODY PARTS.COM”, the Sun looks at Britishers who sell their body on the web.

This is not the kind of body selling that involves women called Dannii who will dress up for you, but meat that can be trussed up and brought out in polite company.

The meat is called Umer, and the Sun meets the walking carvery at an East London hotel. The Sun has seen Umer’s advert posted on a website in California.

But the sale of human body parts is illegal. Umer has to be careful. Friends who know him may grow suspicious as he appears day by day with another part of his anatomy missing. And advertising on the web is rife with danger. For these reasons and more Umer goes under a pseudonym, a nom-de-web – he calls himself Umer1. He claims to have been born in Pakistan and live in Manchester.

“Kidney for sale,” says Umer1’s advert. “Male O -, good health. Buyer pays all travel, transplant and medical costs plus the cost to buy my kidney. Contract will be written in English. Total cost £100,000 plus medical expenses and travel.”

The Sun’s man with an appetite contacts Umer1. And over a meal of chicken and chips, Umer1 agrees to sell a kidney (£50,000), part of his liver (£20,000) and his cornea (£20,000). The operation will be performed by a doctor in Lahore.

And it can work. With decent medal care, a lighter Umer may well go on to live a normal life, says the Sun. He might yet enjoy the fruits of his labour, specifically a house in Pakistan and a shop.

But the Sun is unimpressed. The paper’s editorial calls this an “evil trade”. Rather than blaming greed, exploitation and a lack of donor organs, it says the internet “has the potential for evil”. Sites offering human body parts for sale should be closed down.

And what of the counter argument that ending the trade in human body parts stifles development in the third world, and Manchester? That for every organ donor there is likely to be a recipient who stands a chance of living a better life. And that shortening the lives of human beings – a species now routinely talked about as being bad for the planet that causes penguins to drown and ice to melt – might be no bad thing. (Back in 2003, Michael Meacher, the former Labour Environment Minister, described humanity as a “virus” on the Earth.)

But we are not told the name of the website on which Umer and his ilk advertise. We are not told who operates the site. And the only proof we have of any trade is Umer or Umer1 talking to a reporter.

It is clear the Sun’s investigation has far to go. And in the meantime, you can look out for body parts for sale in your newsagent’s window, local newspaper or website.

And busy yourself with today’s recipe for chopped liver with an Asian fusion…

Posted: 8th, January 2007 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink