Call for papers: "The Illicit Trade in Human Organs"

The journal welcomes submissions to a new special issue on "The Illicit Trade in Human Organs: New Directions and Critical Perspectives from Interdisciplinary Research." The deadline for manuscript submission is the 31st of January 2024.

The issue will be Guest-Edited by Frederike Ambagtsheer ( of the Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus MC Transplant Institute, University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and Seán Columb ( of the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, UK. 

The growing scarcity of human organs has led to an illegal organ market that is proliferating globally. This market fulfils the demand that legal organ procurement systems fail to fulfil. 

Although reliable figures of the trade’s scope are lacking, the World Health Organization has estimated that approximately five thousand illegal transplants are performed annually. The organ trade is reported to rank in the top five of the world’s most lucrative international crimes with an estimated annual profit of $840 million to $1.7 billion. 

While illegal organ transplants are reported to take place in countries across the globe, empirical knowledge of the organ trade remains scarce, particularly when compared to other types of demand-driven crimes.

For this special issue, we welcome a broad range of interdisciplinary and methodologically innovative contributions that address neglected facets of the organ trade.

Submissions can include a variety of topics, such as, but not limited to:

  • actors and activities of organ trade networks
  • corporate and/or organized crime aspects
  • transplant tourism; global health care inequalities
  • law enforcement; criminal justice perspectives
  • regulated organ markets; rewarded gifting; cultural aspects; paid donation schemes
  • migration, people-smuggling and organ sales 
  • online dimensions of organ trade; cybercrime aspects; virtual ethnography 

Contributions presenting empirical data (through qualitative or quantitative research) are particularly encouraged. 


Submitted manuscripts must be original and must not be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Manuscripts will be reviewed by independent referees, as per the journal’s standard evaluation process. The editors will base their final decisions on the relevance to the special issue, technical quality, innovative content, and originality of research approaches and results. All submitted manuscripts must be fully compliant with the journal's Submission guidelines.

Submissions should be uploaded via Editorial Manager (see To ensure your paper is considered for this special issue, reply “yes” when asked during submission whether it is intended for a special issue, and select the relevant title from the drop-down menu. You may also wish to mention the special issue in your cover letter. Optional extended abstracts should be submitted to one of the Guest Editors via email.

Submission deadline: January 31st, 2024

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