Dr. Luc Noel, a WHO official who runs a unit monitoring trends in legitimate and underground donations of human organs, said kidneys make up 75 percent of the global illicit trade in organs due to rising rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems, The Guardian reported.
"The illegal trade worldwide was falling back in about 2006 to 2007 -- there was a decrease in 'transplant tourism,'" Noel told The Guardian. "The trade may well be increasing again. There have been recent signs that that may well be the case. There is a growing need for transplants and big profits to be made. The stakes are so big, the profit that can be made so huge, that the temptation is out there."
Of the 106,879 solid organs known to have been transplanted -- legally and illegally -- in 95 member states in 2010 more than 68 percent were kidneys, but those 106,879 operations satisfied just 10 percent of the global need, WHO research said.
Gangs harvest organs from vulnerable people, sometimes for as little as $5,000, while patients go to China, India or Pakistan among other countries for surgery that could cost $200,000, The Guardian said.
The Guardian contacted an organ broker in China who advertised: "Donate a kidney, buy the new iPad!" and said he offered more than $4,000 for a kidney.