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Presenter: Dominique, Martin, University of Melbourne, Australia
Authors: Dominique Martin, Rebecca Ritte
Online Solicitation of Organ Donors: An analysis of a living donor online forum (preliminary findings)
Dominique Martin1, Rebecca Ritte1,2
1Centre for Health and Society, The University of Melbourne, University of Melbourne, Australia, 2Onemda, VicHealth Koori Health Unit, The University of Melbourne, University of Melbourne, Australia
Little is known about the mechanisms by which individuals may solicit or offer organs for transplantation on the internet, despite widespread recognition of the ethical concerns raised by online solicitation of unrelated living organ donors. In this paper, we present the preliminary findings of the Online Solicitation of Organ Donors (OSOD) study in the context of a multinational living donor online forum.
Methods: A forum dedicated to communication between potential donors and recipients within an international online community website with a prohibition on commercial activity was analysed. Publicly presented personal information was extracted from all threads initiated during a six week period (1 June 2013 – 14 July 2013 inclusive). Openly posted names, usernames, email addresses and phone numbers were used to trace any further evidence of online activity elsewhere.
Results: From a total of 45 individual user profiles identified, four user categories were defined: offerers (n=20); solicitors (n=20); brokers (n=1) and other (n=4). Approximately 89% of solicitors and offerers were concerned with obtaining or donating livers (n=18) and/or kidneys (n=22). Ten countries were identifiable with 36 of the user profiles; 29% were associated with the USA and 27% with India. Of the offerers, 50% were identified offering their organs in a variety of unrelated internet forums, with at least 7 of the 10 seeking monetary payment.
Conclusion: Nominally altruistic organ donation online forums appear to provide a platform for individuals to solicit and offer organs across the world. Participation in such forums is one of the strategies prospective organ vendors, buyers and brokers may use to arrange sales. Greater knowledge of these online interactions will inform efforts to prevent harmful practices and assist in the evaluation of illicit organ trade in the international setting.
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