Tales from the Organ Trade (2013) - full transcript

TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE is a gritty and unflinching descent into the shadowy world of black-market organ trafficking: the street-level brokers, the rogue surgeons, the impoverished men and women who are willing to sacrifice a slice of their own bodies for a quick payday, and the desperate patients who face the agonizing choice of obeying the law or saving their lives. From Manila to Istanbul, from Colorado to Kosovo, from Toronto to Tel Aviv, the film brings to the screen a compelling cast whom fate has brought together where the gift of life meets the shadow of death.

(contemplative strings music)

(dramatic piano music)

(machinery beeping)
(ventilator hissing)

- [Narrator] It is one
of the great miracles

of modern medicine, the
saving of a dying patient

with a transplanted body part.

But there is a worldwide
shortage of organs

and a surplus of poor
people who believe

that the solution
to their suffering

is not to receive an
organ, but to sell one.

* Take it

* Take another little
piece of my heart now, baby

* Oh, oh, break it

* Break another little bit
of my heart, now darling

* Yeah, c'mon now

* Oh, have a

* Have another little
piece of my heart now, baby

* You know you got it, wow

* Take it

* Take another little
piece of my heart now, baby

* Oh, oh, break it

* Break another
little bit of my heart

(ominous strings music)

(gulls squawking)

(traffic rumbling)

(cars honking)

(train rattling)

- [Narrator] Joboy, a
44-year-old husband and father

yearns to lift his family
from abject poverty.

He's decided to sell
one of his kidneys.

His home is a crawl space
under someone else's shack.

It's too small to stand up in,
and there's no electricity.

(dramatic strings music)

- [Narrator] In the Philippines,

like almost everywhere
else on earth,

selling a part of
your body is illegal.

The result is a
flourishing black market,

run by backstreet
brokers like Diane.

Like most brokers, Diane
sold one of her own kidneys

and served as the agent
for a dozen members

of her extended family
when they sold theirs.

- [Narrator] Diane has
offered Joboy $2,500,

double what he'd earn from
unskilled labor in a year.

- [Narrator] All they need now

is someone who is
desperately ill.

Every year, all over the world,

thousands of people like
Joboy make the same decision.

50 years ago, it wasn't possible

to take one kidney from
another to save a life.

Now, it's almost routine.

We are born with two.

With proper care, we can
live and thrive with one.

But the demand for this
organ far exceeds the supply,

so many desperate patients
turn to the black market where,

in some countries,
you can pick up

a kidney for the
price of a laptop.

(machinery beeping)
(ventilator hissing)

(dramatic piano music)

- I was diagnosed at 21
that I had kidney failure.

Generally when this happens,
it happens when you're older.

Of course you go into
denial and you think,

"No way, this can't
be happening to me."

(silverware clatters)

I'm just trying to
live the life I think

I would have lived if
this didn't happen.

(water hissing)

- [Narrator] Mary
Jo has been waiting

for a kidney transplant
for six years.

She's kept alive on dialysis.

- Dialysis, what
it does is, I mean,

it cleans your blood
but it's not just

taking out the toxins,
it's taking out everything.

So, anything good
that's in your body

as well comes out
at the same time.

So, you know, you're wiped out.

When you get off you're
completely wiped out,

so it, I mean, it
takes its toll.

(dog barks)

Sorry Hun, I locked it.

- Oh that's okay.

- I've got stuff
happening all the time.

I've got a three-year-old
kid who's got special needs.

I've got a husband, I've got
a house, I've got a career.

If I want to do the things
I've always wanted to do.

I still want to travel, I want
to, I want to live my life.

So this is my dialysis machine.

(dramatic piano music)

Doing dialysis is
a very traumatizing

experience for anybody.

It took me, I'd say
at least a good year

to really get used to sticking
sharp needles in my arm.

(machine beeping)

You have to do dialysis
every other day.

It just changes you.

It changes the way
you look at things.

It changes your way of life,
your perspective on things

and how you would
do things normally.

This one hurts.

You can't stay on
this machine forever.

It doesn't do what
a kidney does.

Some days I think,
"God, how much longer

"am I going to have to do this?"

I would love to have a living
donor if that was possible.

This is it, unless
somebody offers me a kidney

or unless a cadaver
becomes available.

This is what keeps me alive.

(dramatic strings
and piano music)

- There's no point in
having a bad attitude.

You put up with what
you have to put up with

and there's no point in
complaining about it.

It's a matter of just what
you have to deal with.

I'm effectively between
a rock and a hard place.

If I can get a transplant
in the next year or two,

I will probably live
another 20, 25 years.

If I, you know, don't
manage to maintain

my health long enough
to get a transplant

and they take me off
the transplant list,

I'll be dead in eight
years, probably.

It's not living, it's existing.

- So Walter, how
long have you been

on the transplant list already?

- Almost two years.

- Wow.

- What do I have, probably
two or three years

before I probably have problems?

- Currently, people
that have, were put

on the transplant list
at the time you were,

they're waiting anywhere
from four to five years

for a kidney to become available

unless they have a living donor.

- Right.

(dramatic piano music)

- Patients who are on dialysis
have an increased mortality.

And that mortality
hasn't changed in the
last 15, 20 years.

As a doctor, if
you're in a clinic

of a hundred people
that you're treating,

20 of those people are
going to die each year.

- I effectively have to
decide at this point whether,

you know, if I
can't find a donor

in this country fairly
soon, I have to decide

whether I'm willing
to take on my soul,

the ethical burden of purchasing
a kidney from somebody

or choose to die, and that is
really the choice I'm facing.

(pot clangs)

(water hissing)

- Waiting for him to get
to the top of the list--

- Which I ain't gonna make.

- Of transplant,
cadaver transplants,

just doesn't seem like
it's gonna happen.

And you know, it's, yeah, I mean

a foreign situation obviously
would not be our first choice

but at this point it looks
like it may be our only choice.

(dramatic piano music)

- [Narrator] In Toronto,
Raul Fain already made

the choice that
Walter is considering.

He mortgaged his
house, went overseas,

and paid $100,000 for a kidney.

- Where was this
minaret, downtown?

- Across from the hotel.

- [Raul] Oh, here is how I look

after the second day of surgery,

and my muscles have
disappeared and I've lost--

- Oh, the muscle disappeared
before the surgery.

That's what renal failure does.

Let me see this one.

- Approximately 10
years ago, I was

diagnosed with a kidney disease.

After about nine years,
my specialist suggested

that he's really not able
to help me much more.

(keyboard clacking)

So I started to inquire about
doing a transplant overseas.

I had one ray of sunshine that
through some family members,

it was transmitted to me
that there was a gentleman

that had this
operation in Israel.

- When he got the news that

there may be a possibility

to go out of the
country, we just jumped.

- [Raul] And when I
contacted this person,

he explained to me
that the surgery

does not take place in Israel.

- Then it was Turkey,
which I said okay.

Turkey is already,

it's not a backward country.

It's modern and so on.

- He also informed
me that there were

some problems in Turkey,

and the whole operation

has had to move to Kosovo.

- The Turkey clinic
has been closed.

We have to go to Kosovo, so
whatever we were prepared for,

we were not prepared for Kosovo.

(dramatic strings music)

- [Narrator] Kosovo is
Europe's newest country,

an orphaned slice of
the former Yugoslavia

corroded by corruption and
strangled by organized crime.

(siren wails)

When Raul traveled to
Kosovo for his black market

kidney transplant, he had no
idea he was about to become

embroiled in one of the
world's most infamous

organ trafficking
rings, an organization

now being investigated
by the European Union.

(treadmill whirring)

Jonathan Ratel is a prosecutor

and a veteran of trouble spots
like Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has now been sent to Kosovo

to crack down on organized
crime and corruption.

The first case to land on
his desk is the Medicus case.

The charges, trafficking in
body parts, organized crime,

trafficking in persons, and
unlawful medical practice.

- [Linda] Okay, what are
the precise allegations

that ground the indictment here?

- There is a growing
network of organ trade

throughout the world, and
unfortunately the source

for these organs are
the indigent, the
poor, the vulnerable,

and the persons who
want this are rich,

wealthy, western
nations, who can pay

a hundred thousand US
dollars for a kidney.

And they are harvesting
these organs.

That's the top-level
allegation of this.

- To sell an organ,
it's a terrible thing.

But on the other
hand, maybe it's saves

your life equally
how it saved my life.

We don't know, and I cannot
profess to know what,

for what purpose did
these people did it.

You know, so that's why
it can never be, you know,

100% one way and say
it's bad and that's it.

(dramatic orchestral music)

- [Narrator] In this
clinic called Medicus,

on the outskirts of
Kosovo's capital, Prishtina,

Raul Fain's life was saved by

one of Europe's most wanted men.

- One of the significant figures

in this case is Dr. Yusuf
Sonmez, without a doubt.

This individual is a
notorious organ trafficker

and has engaged in this
activity in his own home country

in Turkey for a
long period of time.

(camera shutters clicking)

He is the surgical
expertise in this case.

- [Narrator] Dr. Yusuf
Sonmez is one of Turkey's

most accomplished
transplant surgeons

and a fugitive from the
international police.

He performed more than
2,000 operations in Turkey

and in dark corners of
the former Soviet empire.

He first made headlines when
he was caught on hidden camera

allegedly offering a man
$8,000 for his kidney.

- [Narrator] His
alleged practice

of dealing in body parts
earned him the nicknames

Doctor Vulture and the
Turkish Frankenstein.

Arrested six times
in his own country,

Sonmez escaped
conviction by producing

consent forms from his donors,

attesting that ultimately
no cash ever changed hands.

- [Narrator] But now, the
transplants he performed

at the Medicus clinic in Kosovo,

have him in the legal
crosshairs once again.

- He had a presence.

He could have commanded
anybody in the room,

and the way he imposed
himself, just by his,

just by his movements,
just by his demeanor.

- He didn't have
time for small talk,

although I tried
to entertain a few,

a few words with him, I
said I read a lot about you.

To what he said, "Yeah,
all the beautiful things

"about me on the Internet,
and you still came?"

And I said, "Yes,"
(laughs) "and we still came

"because you are the only one."

- [Jonathan] What really grounds

this case is man's
inhumanity to man.

Anywhere from 10 to 15% of all

organ transplants are illegal.

This is an exploitation of the

human condition
that has to stop.

- Obviously, I'm
biased and, obviously,

this particular situation
helped me and saved my life.

So obviously there is,
you know, I'm selfish.

But I don't see it like
such a terrible thing,

provided that it's done
in kind of an honest way.

- [Narrator] The
Medicus case involves

dozens of people across
three continents.

Raul was one of 20
patients who traveled

to Kosovo to buy
a kidney in 2008.

20 people from Eastern
Europe, Turkey,

and Russia sold their kidneys.

The prosecution claims
that Raul's transplant

was performed by the
surgeon Yusuf Sonmez

and aided by an international
cast of characters

that includes another
doctor, a fixer,

and an exploited victim
who gave up an organ.

To track the sale of
a black market kidney,

the production team
sets out to reassemble

all the player's from
Raul's operation,

starting with the man at the
center of the Medicus case.

Amazingly, Dr. Sonmez,
a fugitive from justice,

wanted by Interpol,
has his own website.

(keyboard clacking)

But does Dr. Frankenstein
answer his emails?

(gloomy mandolin music)

(razor humming)

The Philippines was
once a prime destination

for foreign patients
desperate to buy a kidney,

but with the global crackdown
on organ trafficking,

it's now affluent Philippinos
who drive the trade.

- [Narrator] Diane gets word
that a transplant is imminent.

She keeps a roster of
potential organ sellers

so that surgeons have a choice.

Joboy has competition.

(dramatic piano music)

Eddieboy is a 22-year-old with
the same blood type as Joboy

and an equal ration of
poverty and hopelessness.

(baby cooing)

- [Narrator] In the Philippines,
like everywhere else,

each donor must testify
before a hospital official

that they are not being coerced
and that they are motivated

strictly by altruism,
not financial gain.

- [Narrator] To prevent
abuse, Philippine law requires

that a donor have a
relationship with the recipient.

This is the loophole
that will get

Diane's candidates
through their interview.

- [Narrator] It takes
Eddieboy a while to catch on.

But Diane has too much
at stake to let him fail.

- [Narrator] Joboy
is a quicker study.

(suspenseful strings
and piano music)

- [Narrator] Now, for Eddieboy

and Joboy, it's
just a waiting game.

(thunder rumbles)

A few days later, there's
a call from the hospital.

- [Narrator] Diane
tells Joboy the news.

(dramatic mandolin music)

(dramatic strings
and piano music)

- I really think we should
look at other alternatives.

- Yeah, well...

- [Nancy] So Laura, I
appreciate that, you know,

in your situation, you
don't really feel that you--

- Sure.

- Could be a donor, but I
obviously have mixed feelings.

If she were to suddenly have a

change of heart
and say, "Yes," a--

- [Laura] What an enormous
relief it would be for everyone.

- Yeah, I mean, I think
it'd be marvelous.

On the other hand, I don't
blame her at all for, you know,

making the decision
that she's made.

- It's not even a
rational decision,
really, this is a piece

of my body and I'm not
gonna give it away.

- [Walter] Well I
understand that, well...

- And surgery is scary,
and things are scary,

and I've got lots
of rational reasons,

but the actual reason is just
that it bothers me, the idea.

- [Walter] I know, I know.

It would bother me too.

- [Laura] Yeah.

- And you damn well know that,
you know, we would have done

anything for you when
you were growing up,

and you'll do the
same for your kids.

- No, I could have told you
already that that would be,

of course that
would be different.

(Laura and Nancy laugh)

- [Walter] Right, well.

- I'm not an idiot, of course
that would be different.

You know, I mean,
it's my parents.

They've done lots
of things for me.

It seems like I ought to be
able to do something for them,

and I do things for
them, but you know,

this is something that
my father actually needs,

and to feel like it's
not something that
I'm willing to do.

If it were something
I couldn't do,

I would feel less
guilty, but it being

something that I'm
not willing to do,

I've made a decision
not to help.

(dramatic piano
and guitar music)

- I mean, I really
only have three

choices at this point, okay?

I either get a
transplant overseas,

I get a transplant in
this country, or I die.

- It feels to me as
though going overseas

and taking an organ
from somebody for money,

again, especially
because that's something

that I wouldn't be
comfortable doing.

- Yeah, it's using them.

- And taking advantage of
their poverty, which is

something that is,
I mean, it's wrong.

- Right, I agree.

There's no argument, and
the fact that other people

in this country can't afford to

do this kind of thing is unfair.

- Sure.

- [Nancy] But life is unfair.

- [Laura] I know, and I know
life is unfair, and I know--

- You know, rich people get
things that poor people don't.

That's the way the world works.

- That's true.

I wish we were rich. (chuckles)

- Well, whatever, but
you know what I mean.

- It's the choosing to
take advantage of it

that's so
uncomfortable, you know?

- I just don't see that
there's a lot of choice.

(bus honks and clangs)

- My family's riddled
with kidney disease.

My mom's been on the
machine for 18 years.

There she is.

She doesn't look
like the same person.

I mean, if you ask anybody
who knew her 10 years ago,

and they saw her now, they
wouldn't recognize her.

The change has
been that dramatic.


- How's Alexander?

- He's good.

She's tired and her body is
broken down in many ways.

And dialysis has
just crippled her.

She's only 53.

Mom, I didn't park very close.

Do you want me to park closer?

(machine beeping)

My brother started dialysis
three years ago as well.

My mom developed bone disease.

Her hair started falling out.

It's just been one thing after

another for the past 18 years.

I just don't want to
see myself go down

the same path my mom has, where,

you know, you just degenerate.

Your body just starts to
fall apart after a while.

- If my kids could
have a transplant,

it would be a new beginning.

My daughter's been on
dialysis about six years

and my son, three, so if
there's a kidney out there,

give it to my kids before me
because I really want them to.

I really want them that gift.

- I've got this cool technology.

It's the latest, you know?

You see, what I do is,
I, in, out. (chuckles)

So, you know, it's
like a faucet.

There's two lines basically.

- It's in his
jugular, and that's

what he lives with everyday.

Like, he can't have a shower.

The benefits of having
that, like he said,

like you don't have to put
needles in your arms everyday.

You just hook up
and you're good.

- [Nick] You show them your
arm and then we'll compare.

Okay, this is what terrifies me.

- You wanna see an
old pro? (laughs)

- [Mary Jo] This is 20 years.

- [Nick] Look at this.

This is the choice
I had, you know?

They told me I had
a week to live,

and this is what I
knew would happen

to me if they
started sticking me.

- I used this too
many times that

every once in a
while it just bursts.

- [Mary Jo] That's
when it exploded.

- Yeah.
- Before Halloween.

- [Nick] At the dinner
table. (chuckles)

(dramatic guitar music)

- I've heard of the black
market where, you know,

people are going to try
and source out kidneys

from, you know,
underdeveloped countries.

"Hello, everyone, all
of you need kidneys

"but don't have
potential donors.

"If I am right, then I have
the exact solution for you."

Yeah, I don't know what to
make of stuff like this.

The black market idea
scares me a little bit.

There's people who have come
back riddled with infections.

So, you hear stuff like
that and you just think,

"Wow, that's not the
route I want to take."

- I could definitely
see more people saying,

"I will donate a kidney, and
I'm really hard up for cash."

They're helping someone,
and it might even

help them in a way, so they're,

the person who is
sick is benefiting,

and this person is
getting the compensation

that might actually turn
their life around as well.

- The one guy who wants to
donate his kidney is not

donating it because it's coming
from somewhere deep inside.

He's donating it because he's
desperate for money, so...

- I disagree.

I think he's doing it knowing
that he's helping this guy.

Even though it's petty,
it may seem materialistic,

he still doesn't have to do
that, you know what I mean?

- But if he didn't
need the money,

do you think he
would still do it?

- Maybe not, it sounds
like he wouldn't,

but the guy's getting 20 grand,

but the guys getting a
kidney, you know what I mean?

And he knows the circumstance.

- Yeah, and that's
fine and they're all,

you know, everybody's
happy, but what happens

when that 20 grand
doesn't work out?

What's he gonna do, try and
sell another part of his body?

- Well, hopefully not.

- If our system is failing us,
this is the outcome, right?

This is the by-product.

- Well, when
something isn't freely

available, a black
market exists.

(dramatic strings music)

(car honks)

- [Narrator] In Kosovo,
the infamous Medicus clinic

is deserted now, its
doctors, donors, patients,

and brokers scattered
around the world.

Getting witnesses back
to Kosovo to testify

is proving a challenge
for Jonathan Ratel.

- There's a lot of
moving parts right now.

There's a lot of different
agencies and people involved.

It's my opinion that the
organized criminal group

chose Kosovo for a
particular reason.

Its claim of sovereignty
is recognized

by some states and not others.

We can be seeking evidence in
a foreign country that will

not respond to us because
they do not recognize Kosovo.

That is a massive difficulty.

- [Narrator] So far, Ratel
has seven local doctors

and clinicians
secured for the trial,

but Turkey refuses to
extradite Dr. Yusuf Sonmez.

And there's another
key player Ratel wants,

the middleman who made the
Medicus machine run smoothly.

After all, someone
had to organize

blood tests and tissue matching.

Someone had to book flights
and take care of logistics.

And hundreds of
thousands of dollars

had to cross oceans
and change hands.

According to Ratel, Moshe
Harel was that someone.

- [Jonathan] He is
the fixer, the person

that arranges all of
this, the business end

of the trafficking conspiracy.

- He informed me
right from the outset,

that as soon as they complete
the required medical tests,

they have so many
donors that they can do

the operation within
one week or two.

And he, at a point, told me,
"Well, you know, we're ready.

"We're waiting for you."

And I said, "What is these guys?

"I mean, you have a
football team of donors?"

And he says, "Well,
pretty close to it."

- [Narrator] Moshe Harel
was arrested in Pristina

when the Medicus
clinic was raided

by the Kosovo police
but was released on bail

with a promise to
return for the trial.

Since then, he has disappeared,
except on Facebook.

And though he didn't respond
to messages, he did post that

he is in an open relationship
and he likes Restauranteers.

But for Raul Fain,
Moshe was the crucial

link to a life-saving operation.

Even in the black market,
in addition to a surgeon,

every transplant
involves a nephrologist,

a kidney doctor who
ensures that the recipient

is suitable for a
transplant and that he's

matched with an
appropriate donor.

- Moshe informed
me that there is

this doctor by the
name of Zaki Shapira

that is a quite a well-known
nephrologist in Israel.

And he kind of jokingly
says, "Go on the internet.

"You'll find him.

"He's already famous."

And he didn't really specify
to me what is he famous for.

Dr. Zaki Shapira had
a very important role

of doing the matching and
checking all the blood tests

and making sure that, you know,

which is quite probably
equal responsibility

to the doctor that
is doing the surgery.

- [Narrator] Jonathan Ratel
has named Zaki Shapira

an unindicted co-conspirator
in the Medicus case.

- [Director] Do you have a
sense of what this person did?

- Absolutely.

- [Director] What?

- Well as an unindicted
co-conspirator, they're part

of the organized criminal
group involved in this.

And they are at
the level or near

the level of Sonmez and Harel.

If that individual is beyond
the reach of the prosecutor,

the person cannot be indicted.

- [Director] You're powerless.

- The prosecutor
can't reach them.

- Dr. Shapira was like a father.

He, at all time, tried
to calm both of us.

- You feel very assured
when somebody makes a trip

and takes the time
to come and see you

and to come to reassure you
that the surgery went out okay

and there are no, everything
seems to be in place.

- [Narrator] Controversy has
shadowed Professor Zaki Shapira

for decades and he has declined
all interviews in the past.

But now, he agrees
to go on camera

for the first time and
break his public silence.

- [Narrator] Dr. Shapira is one

of Israel's most distinguished
transplant surgeons.

In the early days,
with ambiguous laws

and a dire shortage of kidneys,

few questions were asked about
the source of his donors.

- [Narrator] When an
ethics review board

began to question his methods,

Shapira moved some
of his business

into Eastern Europe
and to nearby Turkey,

where he found high
clinical standards,

a large supply of
willing kidney sellers,

and a brilliant surgeon
named Yusuf Sonmez.

In 2007, the two physicians
were arrested in Istanbul

during one of their operations

and spent three months
together in a Turkish prison

before the charges
against them were dropped.

- [Director] How many operations

do you think you've done?

- [Director] So 850
times you traveled

to foreign locations to operate?

- [Narrator] Operating
in clandestine

locations posed some
unique challenges.

- [Director] And nothing
happened, they were all fine?

- [Director] Doesn't
it bother you

that your reputation
may have suffered?

- The truth is that that
organ came from someone,

and that person was exploited.

They were extremely vulnerable,

and the harvesting of their
organ is an outrageous act.

(dramatic strings music)

- [Narrator] Five
hours from Manila

is a province where
the kidney trade

has cut a swath through
the male population.

(machine clicking)

So many in this region
have sold their kidney,

they have formed a
small support group.

(dramatic piano
and strings music)

- [Narrator] Even in
this destitute corner

of the Philippines, no one
claims to have been drugged,

duped, or dragged into
the operating room.

They are, however, victims of
a system that is unregulated

and rife with the
potential for exploitation.

(dramatic synth music)

- [Narrator] The
thrill of a quick

payoff extends across villages

and through families,
like these three brothers.

Noli used his windfall to
buy a motorized skateboard,

the only form of
transportation in his village.

The fares he charges,
mere pennies a ride,

sustain his family of four.

(oil sizzling)

- [Narrator] For all the
men the lure is simple,

more cash than they could earn

in a year or two
of village labor.

But Hector is one man for
whom it all went wrong.

(rooster crows)

He's been suffering
crippling pains for months.

(rooster crows)

- [Narrator] Hector
spent the proceeds

of his surgery long ago,
so the production team pays

for an ultrasound to find the
source of his chronic pain.

- Based on the
ultrasound findings,

the left kidney has
a mild renal disease.

And this is a sign of a
deteriorating left kidney.

There is really a problem.

He will be a candidate
for dialysis,

and he himself will be
looking for a donor.

- [Narrator] Hector should never

have been accepted as a donor.

He likely had kidney
disease long before

he sold his organ
on the black market.

His remaining kidney
is failing quickly.

Probably, tragically,
so is the one

that he donated to
a dying stranger.

No one knows how many other
horror stories could be told

in China, in India, all
across the developing world.

Yet for all its dangers,
the lure of using the body

as a bankbook
remains irresistible.

(family socializing)

It's now been
almost eight years,

and Mary Jo still hasn't made
it to the top of the list.

- I don't how she
does it some days.

Putting those needles in her arm

for eight hours every other day

and then working and
taking care of her family.

You know, and it's been going
on for almost eight years.

It's inconceivable,
and it's wearing on us.

It's wearing on her, especially.

You know, she's growing,
she's getting tired.

I feel terrible about it.

I'm inspired by her.

Like, I used to be
irritated 'cause

I was maybe a bit more
immature and selfish,

but now it's, you know,
we've got a kid together,

and we've got a life
that we've built,

and you've got to suck it up.

(dramatic strings
and piano music)

- I was told I was somewhere
like halfway up the list,

which surprised me a little
bit because, when I started,

they told me seven
or eight years.

Now, they're telling me possibly
10 years, so I don't know.

- When you were here last time,

we were thinking very strongly
about trying to figure out

how I could go overseas
to get a kidney

because we knew that I
didn't have very long

and nothing seemed
to be happening here.

But I said, at the
time, that I wasn't

going to give up
on alternate paths.

I do not believe that
very many people recognize

that they can do an altruistic
donation to some person.

There are a couple
websites, in particular,

Matching donors has caused
more than 300 transplants

in the last six years,
and it's always possible

that I might wind
up being one of them

if I find the right
person at the right time.

- How many people are
there in the world

that voluntarily want
to give up a kidney

because somebody needs kidneys?

I think the number
is pretty small.

It doesn't seem like
it's in the cards.

- Unfortunately, a large number
of those potential donors

are looking to donate
to somebody young,

with young children,
whose life they could save

and they can be a hero, but I'm
not going to badger anybody.

I will send one email
to somebody and say,

"Would you consider
me as a recipient?"

and explain who I am
and what I am and so on.

And I don't know why more
people do not respond to me.

Part of the problem may be
that I come on too strong.

I don't know.

It's a hit or miss proposition,
but anything's worth a try,

and all avenues
are worth pursuing.

(gulls squawking)

- [Narrator] In Turkey, the
infamous Dr. Sonmez is still

at large, but surprisingly,
he does respond to his email,

with a dinner invitation in
Istanbul, no cameras, no crew.

The director travels to
Turkey to meet the surgeon.

She assumed the meeting
would be clandestine

but is surprised to find
that dinner includes

his parents, his wife,
and young daughter.

The next day, he
phones the director

and agrees to an interview.


Because his mother trusts her.

- I think that he has
become a scapegoat.

There's nobody he
killed, nobody.

You see, he's a
very good surgeon.

Everybody accepts it.

- He might look
scary from outside,

but he's quite soft inside.

- [Director] I think
Yusuf is coming.

- Yusuf is coming.

Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Dr. Yusuf Somnez, he's a
very interesting individual

in the sense that he's
highly intelligent,

and quite worldly.

But I think it's
quite clear that he is

a significant
international component

to organ trafficking
around the world.

- [Narrator] Yusuf
Sonmez has outflanked

the Turkish justice
system six times,

but if he ever
leaves his homeland,

Jonathan Ratel will be waiting.

The Interpol Red Notice, an
international arrest warrant,

has trapped Dr.
Sonmez in Turkey.

The moment he leaves
the country, he risks
getting arrested.

- [Director] I would gather
it's a little bit annoying?

- No.

- It's not annoying?

- No, why?

- Look, crimes against life
and health, people smuggling,

trafficking, and
illegal immigration.

- [Narrator] Dr. Sonmez
seems less disturbed

about his fate than
about his photo.

- I just told him, "Please,
Yusuf, we are in trouble.

"You see, we are very,
very sad about you.

"Please leave becoming a surgeon

"and working as a
surgeon, you see."

(chuckles) What he
told me, do you know?

"Are you going to
say, to tell me,

"Mother, that I'm going
to be a grocer?" (laughs)

"I cannot do it because
it's not my business.

"I cannot do it.

"Yes, and only I
can do one thing.

"I am a doctor."

- [Narrator] While Dr.
Sonmez blames the media

for his notoriety, he
recognizes that he has been

operating at the
margins of the law.

- [Director] Why did you go
to Azerbaijan, to Kosovo?

You are begging for trouble.

- Dr. Sonmez cannot
understand why

there is any legal
question about it,

and the morality of what
he is doing escapes him.

I think that he believes that
he is providing a service

to extremely
desperate individuals.

- [Director] If a donor comes
from Moldova or Ukraine--

- [Director] And
you have no idea

that the donors
were getting paid?

- This Kosovo case,
because it touched

really all of
parts of the world,

it affected not just
me but my family.

After this case dropped
in the newspapers,

my uncle and my aunt, they
called, and they asked,

"You know that you are
living with a criminal?"

Because people do believe
what's written in the media.

If, for example, in Yusuf's
case, if the media said that

he is the boss of the Mafia,
people do believe that one.

- It is a case as gruesome
as it is shocking.

A surgeon and six other
suspects in Kosovo are accused

of running an international
organ trafficking ring.

- [Reporter] Kosovo
has become a haven

in the illicit trade
of human organs.

- At least seven suspects
in Kosovo have been charged

with persuading people
to sell their organs.

- The victims were
lured from other

countries and had
their kidneys stolen.

- [Reporter] The gang
allegedly preyed on those

living in extreme poverty.
- The gang.

- [Reporter] The indictment
says an Ontario man, Raul Fain,

received a kidney
from a Russian woman.

- The fact that my
name was mentioned

kind of makes me very uneasy,

as if I knowingly participated

in this particular scheme,

which really fairly honestly,

if I wouldn't have
been part of it

and I would just be
a regular TV watcher,

I would be very offended
myself of how people

take advantage of other people
and mislead them and so on.

But how do you counter that?

You have to go and
say "No, I know

"that the facts are different."

- The medical ethics
of this are clear

to anybody involved
in the profession,

and you have to step over
that line quite clearly,

and the only reason that
someone would do that,

in my opinion, is absolute
pure and simple greed.

That's what motivates this, is

the motive for obscene profits.

- There were doctors
involved and nephrologists

and surgeon and all this people,

and I think they did it
more than just pure money.

I mean, everybody
works for money.

You don't work for nothing.

But I don't think that was their

primary motive for doing this.

(dramatic synth music)

- [Narrator] The
economics of the organ

trade are a
challenge to unravel.

The compensation
that donors receive

for selling their
kidney varies widely.

The poorer the country,
the lower the price.

In India, the payoff
can be as low as $1,000.

In Egypt, it's $2,000.

In Turkey, up to $10,000.

The cost of the operation
might be ten times higher,

but many people get a
piece of the action.

- What does everybody get?

I really have no idea.

All I can tell you is there
are many hands in the pie

because there are so
many people involved,

and each one has
an important role.

I mean, just look at the people

that I came in
contact with, right?

I have a Moshe.

I have a surgeon.

We are here in a
fully-staffed clinic

with two male nurses
at all time for us.

So, you know, it adds up.

- [Narrator] Back in Manila,

Eddieboy's operation
is finally scheduled.

(engine purring)

- [Narrator] The next day,

Diane accompanies
Eddieboy to the hospital.

(suspenseful strings
and piano music)

A few hours after
Eddieboy is admitted,

a member of the production team,
rigged with a hidden camera

and posing as a relative,
will meet him in his room.

The goal is to
identify the recipient

and see how much
money changes hands.

(people socializing)

But several hours after
leaving Eddieboy off

at the hospital, Diane
calls and asks to meet.

Surprisingly, she's
with Eddieboy.

- [Narrator] It's
an unlikely story.

Transplants are rarely
canceled at the last minute.

With a little investigation,
we learn the truth.

Uncomfortable with the cameras
and the focus on Eddieboy,

Diane replaced him
at the last minute

with another one of her clients,

a man who has just returned
home with fresh bandages

and what should have
been Eddieboy's cash.

No country is immune to
the trade in human organs.

- [Jason] My family
thought I was nuts.

At first, it was like,
"You shouldn't do this.

"Why are you doing this?

"Why are you even
thinking about it?"

- [Narrator] In a
suburb of Philadelphia,

Jason Chamberlain sold his
kidney on the internet.

- [Dianne] What are you doing?

- What are you doin', hun?

- Gotta go on Craigslist.

- You're gonna go on
Craigslist, for what?

- I'm going to go on the
free section and see if I can

find stuff to clean up
and resell on Craigslist.

- I love you son.

God bless you.

- I'm basically doing
whatever I can to survive.

In the course of doing
like Google searches,

I came across a gentleman that

posted an ad, "In
need of a kidney."

I thought it was just
somebody playing a game,

so I actually replied to
it, and I got a reply back.

"No, I'm dead serious.

"I'm in desperate need."

I asked him what kind of
compensation I would receive.

He offered me $20,000.

So after thinking about,
you know, that number,

I came to the decision
that, that would seem fair.

- I was like, "Are you crazy?"

I'm like, you know, it's
a lot involved in it.

- I was trying to start
a business so I figured,

"Wait a minute.

"Okay, maybe I can get
something out of this,

"and he can get what he needs."

So, it's a one hand washes
the other situation.

There was, you know, plenty
of trips back and forth

to the hospital, pre-testing,
lots of pre-testing.

His antibodies and his blood
was rejecting just about

everybody that was being
tested, so it was a long shot.

It was down to the
point where I was

the only match out
of over 70 people.

- [Narrator] Just like Diane's

impoverished clients in Manila,

Jason was able to bluff his way

through a pre-surgery interview.

- We never mentioned that
it was a Craigslist ad,

but I know they had
their suspicions.

They were just
trying to trip me up,

to make sure that I was doing
this on my own free will

and I wasn't being, you know,
I wasn't selling the kidney.

I don't feel exploited,
and I don't feel

that I exploited the
recipient either.

I feel that it
was just something

we both agreed on, you know?

I needed to live, I needed
to survive, and so did he.

So that's why, you know, I'm
sitting here a living donor,

and he has a kidney
that's functional.

(dramatic synth and piano music)

(cars honking)

- The ultimate good for society
is saving someone's life.

The government
encourages me to walk

into that hospital
right there and say,

"I want to donate my
kidney altruistically."

So the act itself is
considered a good act!

So why not offer
people incentives to
do the right thing?

What's wrong with that?

If donating a kidney was
considered to be horrific,

if cutting into my
body to save a stranger

was considered to be
immoral or horrific,

then I would understand
the government saying,

"We're not going to allow that,

"not for money, and
not altruistically."

But they allow it

so why not allow it for money?

- [Narrator] Robby
Berman is an activist,

advocating for a

system to compensate
kidney donors.

- So this is the script.

Basically, you guys
are gonna be standing

across the street,
and you're gonna be

looking at this
building as if there's

a fire in the building and
there's a 10-year-old boy

on the roof that's
screaming for help.

As soon as the
fire starts going,

I want everyone to
start looking up.

(flame crackles and hisses)

- Help, help!

- You know, it's clear
to me that if you want

to get a message across,
YouTube is the way to go.

So I want to make
a video that will,

in a fun way, get
the message across.

The kid represents
7,000 Americans

that are dying every year.

- That's my boy!

That's my son!

- You turn around and you say,

"I will give a thousand dollars

"to anyone who
will save my son."

- For a thousand dollars,
I'll risk my life.

- The guy in the
black leather jacket,

he is the poor person
who is being exploited.

Sorry, I can't let you do it.

- Who are you?

- My name is Peter

Peter Paternalistic, my alter
ego, is the establishment.

It's the government.

It's the people who
think they know better.

- Why won't you let
me save the boy?

- Because your
motives are impure.

You're doing it for
the thousand dollars.

- Well, I was doing it for the

money but also to save his life.

- Yes, but to save a
life, maybe next week

you would take a thousand
dollars to sell your kidney.

- My God!

- [Robby] (laughs)
Okay, that was funny.

That's good.

Let's do that again.

(dramatic strings music)

- [Narrator] The crux
of the Medicus case

lies with the exploitation
of the victims

who were compelled by
desperation to sell a body part.

- There is a propaganda machine

as far as looking at it
from only one viewpoint,

that organs are stolen
against people's wishes.

But I can say that
from my experience

that the donors seemed quite
willingly to do the surgery.

- All of the donors
have returned to
their home countries.

They're difficult to locate.

We're trying to
find these people

and have them provide evidence.

Many of them may
not be cooperative.

They may feel ashamed
or betrayed or injured.

- [Narrator] Raul Fain's
donor holds the key

to what really
happened at Medicus.

Among the documents seized
when the Medicus clinic

was raided is a grainy
photocopy of her passport.

The alleged victim of
this international organ

trafficking ring is
a woman named Anna,

from a country called Moldova.

Raul's donor will
be the final link

in the anatomy of a
black market operation.

Moldova, like Kosovo,
is a fledgling

republic overrun
by criminal gangs.

Once known for exporting
wine, vegetables, and fruit,

it's now known for
exporting impoverished

donors to the
global organ trade.

Here, in a tiny
flat, is the haunting

face from the Medicus files.

Raul's kidney donor,
Anna Rusalenco,

is 48 years old and lives alone.

Her journey to the
Medicus clinic began

with an ad in a
Russian-language newspaper.

- They were dressed very
careful, very appropriate.

One had quite a few
pieces of jewelry.

- They seemed to be smiling.

They didn't appear
to be nervous.

(engine roars)

- I was asked, at the time,
to sign a statement that,

you know, everything is
done quite, quite normally

and that nobody has forced
anybody into doing any of this.

- [Director] And this is the
walk that you take everyday?

- A month and a half
ago, we were looking

at options that
weren't very good.

But I said that I
wasn't going to give up,

and then I lucked into Laurie.

I need a 16-ounce...

We spent the whole
last month texting

each other to the
point where I filled up

my text box at least
three times, okay?

- You only need one kidney.

I got two and they're healthy.

And so if I can give
one to somebody else

to live an equally happy life,

you know, and healthy
and that's great.

- I just happened to
luck into meeting her

at the right time,
in the right place.

and Walter contacted
me the first day.

I think I'm just comfortable
with him, you know?

He says what he has
to say, you know?

He lays it all out there.

It's not candy-coated,
and I'm used to that.

That's what I'm from.

I mean, it's like being at home.

People have asked me, you know,

"Why not a younger child or
a woman or a younger man?"

I have a hard time with that.

The value of his life is
nothing less than a six-year-old

or a four-year-old or, you know?

He's equally as important
as the next person.

(machine beeping)

- Laurie is giving me a
gift, and I love her for it.

She is giving me back my life.

That is a gift that
can never be repaid.

- I'm just afraid that
when somebody really comes

and asks you, "Are
you sure that Walter's

"the person that you
want to donate to?"

that you'll start
to think it over

and you'll say,
"Well, maybe not."

- As much as this is for Walter,
this is really for me too.

When I lost a very dear friend,

I would have given
anything to save her life.

- [Nancy] Okay.

- And um--

- [Nancy] And, of course,
you couldn't, yeah.

- I didn't have that
opportunity, and
I'm so sorry. (sobs)

And if I can help one person...

Live his life with his wife

and his children and
his grandchildren--

- [Nancy] Oh, wow.

- That's, it's
important to me in here.

- Well, thank you
so much for that.

- [Jeffery] How's
life been on dialysis?

- It sucks.

- It sucks, huh, yeah.

- [Mary Jo] How's the
transplant list doing?

- Part of the problem is that
the way things stand now,

there are separate
lists for each

of the regions and
organ donation varies.

They're better in some
parts of the province

than they are in others, and
Toronto has lagged behind.

- [Mary Jo] So I could have been

on a shorter list all this time.

- Had you been
referred there, yes.

- [Mary Jo] That's a little
heartbreaking to hear.

- It is, it is, yeah.

- I've just learned that I'm
on the longest list in Ontario,

(scoffs) so which is really
somewhat discouraging

and upsetting
because I live here,

and had I known,
maybe we could have

decided to live somewhere else.

I don't know if we
would've or not.

It's just, again, it's
something I didn't know.

I was ignorant to.

And, you know, you just
wonder when it's gonna happen.

So I have no choice
but to be positive

and deal with
things as they come.

(machine beeping)

I do as much as I
can, but, I just,

I would love to feel good.

I'm tired.

I start early in the
morning, and I'm done.

By nine, 10 o'clock,
like, I am spent,

and then I have to go
shove needles up my arms.

So yeah, I would love
to get off the machine.

I really would, and
the idea of doing

another two years
doesn't make me happy.

- [Walter] God, I'm scared.

- [Nancy] Don't be, why?

- [Walter] Just surgery.

- [Narrator] Altruistic donors

like Laurie Wood are
one in a million.

Walter has won the lottery.

(machinery beeping)

(dramatic piano
and strings music)

- [Walter] Hi, Troy.

Hi, sweetness.

- It was really good just
to see Walter this morning,

and he looked incredible
and that's great, you know?

It's a good feeling you can make

that kind of a
difference in somebody.

You're not gonna
make lots of trouble.

You be good, behave yourself.

- I know I'm gonna
make lots of trouble.

- No you're not.

- I owe Laurie the
rest of my life.

My life expectancy,
as a statistic,

just went up, a lot.

(dramatic piano music)

- [Narrator] Brought
together by fate,

Anna Rusalenco and
Raul Fain are now

linked in a court
of law as well.

Jonathan Ratel's
indictment of Doctor Sonmez

and the rest of the
Kosovo transplant network

has brought suspicion and
detectives into their homes.

- I had a visit from the
RCMP, which informed me

that they are acting
on behalf of Interpol.

- There were always
surprise-type visits

and not finding me home,
spreading their business card

to all my neighbors
and telling them,

"Oh, I'm looking for Mr. Fain.

"Do you know where he is?"
and so on and so forth.

I found this method a
little bit disconcerting.

- I had no choice but
to give a testimony

or I would have faced
a jail sentence.

- There was a guy
in Brooklyn here

who got caught six months
ago being a broker,

buying and selling
kidneys, and he made money,

he became wealthy,
but he broke the law,

and he saved hundreds of lives.

I follow a law, I
observe the law,

and I have let
hundreds of people die.

Who's moral and who's immoral?

I think I'm immoral,
and that guy

who broke the law,
he's more moral.

He saved hundreds of lives.

So yeah, I'm working
within the system,

but I'm getting
sick of the system.

("Out of Time" by Blur)

- [Narrator] Every year,
thousands of illicit

kidney transplants
continue to take place

in countries around the world.

In all these cases, the
recipients are deathly sick

and the donors are
poor and desperate.

This is the thread that unites
donors, doctors, and patients

in a web of fortune,
fear, and infamy.

In Kosovo, a thrust to shut
down the global kidney trade

has captured seven
local defendants,

but the major players
are far away and free.

In Turkey, Dr. Yusuf
Sonmez, a virtuoso

labeled a vulture, has
relinquished his scalpel.

In Israel, Zaki Shapira,
an unrepentant pioneer,

has quietly retired.

In Canada, Raul lives.

In Moldova, Anna survives.

And all around the world, the
dance of desperation goes on.

- This case is the
hallmark of a rank

exploitation of the
human condition.

These victims were
identified, selected--

- I just hope that the donor
has benefited from this

at least as much as I did
because I benefited a lot.

* Where's the love song

* Set us free

* Too many people down

* Everything turning
the wrong way around

* And I don't know
what love will be

* But if we start dreaming now

* Lord knows we'll
never leave the clouds

* And you've been so busy lately

* That you haven't
found the time

* To open up your mind

* And watch the world spinning

* Gently out of time

* Feel the sunshine on your face

* It's in a computer now

* Gone to the future

* Way out in space

* And you've been so busy lately

* That you haven't
found the time

* To open up your mind

* And watch the world spinning

* Gently out of time

* And you've been so busy lately

* That you haven't
found the time

* To open up your mind

* And watch the world spinning

* Gently out of time

* Tell me I'm not dreaming

* But are we out of time

* We're out of time

* Out of time

* Out of time

* Out of time

* Out of time