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See Inside June 2011

Recommended: Among Giants: A Life with Whales

Books and recommendation from Scientific American



© Flip Nicklin, from Among Giants

Among Giants: A Life with Whales
by Charles “Flip” Nicklin, with Karen M. Kostyal. University of Chicago Press, 2011

For more than 30 years Flip Nicklin has been photographing the world’s whales—from humpbacks in Hawaii to narwhals in the Northwest Passage to sperm whales in Sri Lanka. Equal parts coffee-table book and memoir, the gorgeous volume transports readers to the underwater realm of these most mysterious mammals.

EXCERPT
The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers
by Scott Carney. HarperCollins, 2011

Investigative journalist Scott Carney takes readers on an eye-opening tour of the global trade in human body parts—the so-called red market. Here he describes the plight of the residents of Tsunami Nagar, a refugee camp in India’s Tamil Nadu province for survivors of the 2004 tsunami that devastated coastal villages in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. The villagers are so poor that many have sold one of their kidneys for cash only to end up receiving less money than they were promised, as well as woefully inadequate follow-up care.

“For [Maria Selvam, the village’s most respected man] and thousands of other poor Tamilians who never got their equal share of India’s rising fortunes, selling organs some­times feels like their only option in hard times.

“‘In other parts of India people say that they are going to Malaysia or the United States with a glimmer of hope in their eyes. In Tsunami Nagar people speak that way about selling their kidneys,’ he tells me.

“Tsunami Nagar is far from unique. The ample supply of available organs in the third world and excruciating long waiting lists in the first world make organ brokering a profitable occupation. Not only has demand for kidneys risen steadily in the last forty years, but poor people around the world often view their organs as a critical social safety net.

“Since the inception of antirejection drugs like cyclosporine, international cabals of doctors and corruptible ethics boards have slowly transformed slums in Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines into veritable organ farms. The dirty secret of the organ business is that there is no shortage of willing sellers.

“For someone living on less than a dollar a day, $800 is almost an unthinkably large sum of money. The payment offers an undue incentive, coercion that pits abject poverty against a global capitalist enterprise.”

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