Eleven arrested for alleged Damascus-to-Cairo organ trafficking

Eleven people have been arrested for alleged organ trafficking between Damascus and Cairo, the Syrian press reported on Monday.

The group is believed to be responsible for buying and selling kidneys harvested from over 150 poor Syrians last year alone, Syrian daily Al-Watan reported.

The group is reportedly headed by a 26-year-old woman known as "Fadia," who has been charged with coordinating trafficking operations between slum areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo and organ buyers in Cairo.

Fadia reportedly organized trips for donors to Cairo, where they sold their kidneys to wealthy patients from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates for as little as US$6,600 per kidney.

According to the newspaper, the transplant operations took place in a private hospital in Cairo.

Syrian judicial authorities, meanwhile, have requested that Interpol arrest two members of the group who are believed to be based in Cairo, the newspaper reported.

According to a 2009 World Health Organization report, Egypt is one of five international "hot spots" for organ trafficking.  

Last February, Egypt's parliament passed legislation aimed at regulating organ transplants in a step many believe is crucial to curbing illegal organ trafficking.  

A single human kidney can be purchased for as much as US$15,000 on Cairo's black market, according to Egyptian media reports, although donors seldom receive more than US$2,500, with the remainder going to hospitals, laboratories and middlemen. 

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