Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Black Market Trade of Human Body Parts

This week my debut novel, Proof, releases!

To celebrate, anyone who leaves a comment on my blog during this weeks posts will be eligible to win a free copy! I'll also be drawing from my followers/subscribers lists as well. So, plenty of places for you to win. Drawing cutoff will be Sunday, June 3rd. Winners announced Tuesday, June 5th. To claim, you must e-mail me with your info so definitely check the June 5th post. Must live in the USA.

Welcome back , Bette!

It’s RN Gina Mazzio’s wedding eve. She answers the week’s final OB/Gyn advice call and a deadly serious voice says, “She’s all cut up.”

That single telephone call ignites a series of irreversible events, and instead of marriage and a honeymoon, Gina is plunged into the dangerous, illicit trade in human body parts.

Illicit trade in human body parts?

Gimme a break! That could only happen in fiction. Right?

Although the new medical thriller, Sin & Bone, by J. J. Lamb & Bette Golden Lamb, is fiction, this second book in the RN Gina Mazzio series, is steeped in a reality that most of us never think about.

Can some black-market creep (or shall I say entrepreneur?) steal your body and make an unbelievable profit in untraceable cash?  They can and they do. It’s all a matter of supply and demand. When it comes to body parts, the demand is sky-rocketing. A lot of people are stepping up to the plate and they’re out for the money. Legal or not.

So, yes, there’s a huge black market trade in human body parts.

Who are these people who work in this international illegal industry?  The ones who obtain, prepare, carve up, and sell bodies for profit?

Unethical doctors, dentists, drop-out medical students, funeral parlor owners and/or employees, and, of course, the mafia probably has a hand in it, too. But really anyone with a decent knowledge of anatomy can figure out how to take advantage of this dubious opportunity. After all, it’s easier to cut and paste without a live patient screaming at you to stop.

Most of us think of heart or vital organ transplants when we talk about harvesting the human body. But the black market makes your whole body even more valuable when it’s picked apart and divided into many pieces. Corpses are disjointed, dissected, sold, and distributed from the US and other countries around the globe.

Did I say there was money in it?  It’s huge. Teeth, nails, eyes, connective tissue, bone of every variety – leg, arm , knee cap -- and there’re fingers and toes, ligaments, heart values – and on and on. They’re all valuable and vital even though illegal replacements are implanted without ruling out any of the dangerous diseases they might carry with them. Bacteria and viruses will be passed on to the receiver without a second thought.

Our brave new world, with its medical and pharmaceutical advances, has now created an environment where it’s possible to replace sick or dying organs. Though it’s still a dangerous experience we have learned how to do it -- and so have the body-snatchers.

Living forever?

Does all this replacement of body parts take us down the road to immortality? Well, yes. The only fly in the ointment? We are short of all the viscera to replace all that we need to keep going.

Will there ever be enough affordable replacements to go around?  I don’t think so. And what kind of money are we talking about anyway? How much does it cost to save someone’s life?

It varies from place to place, but here are some ballpark figures: Lung, $50,000, liver, $40,000, heart, $60,000, kidney, $20,000.

Why not go the legal route? Use your insurance company to pay for the procedure, that is, if you have insurance. After all, it’s the safest, most ethical, disease-free way to go

Watch a few TV medical dramas, or listen to the news, or read your newspaper, or tap into your I Pad media app and it won’t take long to find an answer: You could die long before you even got near to the top of the waiting list. Also, I’m a cynic, but I think people with money and influence will get to the top of those critical lists while you hover somewhere around the bottom.

So without being one to throw the first stone, I understand those who investigate illegal pathways to stay alive. I really get it!

 Few of us are ever ready for that final void.

Here are some real life links of current instances:


Bette Golden Lamb is unmistakably from the Bronx – probably why she likes to write thrillers. When she isn’t writing crime novels, you can find her in her studio playing with clay. Her artistic creations appear in juried regional, national, and international exhibitions. She sells through galleries, associations, and stores. She’s also an RN, which explains, Bone Dry, a medical thriller, and Heir Today, an adventure/thriller which also has a medical aspect to it. And just released at Amazon .com, Sister in Silence, a medical thriller about barren women -- available as an ebook or trade paperback. Both books were co-authored with husband J.J. Lamb. You can learn more about Bette here:


  1. This is one of the creepiest factual occurrences in medicine. To the wealthiest go the highest rankings on the lists for body parts.

    Great post!

  2. Oh my, that's enough to fry your hair. Interesting - and chilling. I also like the sound of Bette's book "Bone Dry." Going to have to read that one! Thanks for a most provocative (i.e., think terror) post.

  3. Congratulations to you both on your releases!! Well done!!

  4. Holy cow! I never realized how extensive this "body snatching" thing was outside the book. It's a creative premise, and I read SIN and BONE and loved it. But when you bring the facts into the real world, it is really bone chilling. I never knew what kind of money these body parts cost either. And to think of the list of people that could be involved in it ... and probably are. Yikes.
    Pat Morin

  5. Hi Patti, Karleene, & Donna,
    Can't seem to get the reply to work, but thank you for your comments and interest in my post. It is pretty creepy.
    What a world, huh?

  6. Hey Pat Morin,
    Anything for a buck. Real life is scarier than fiction!

  7. One thing you can be sure of is that the world of healthcare and medicine will never leave you short of dark, chilling material for a thriller. And "Sin & Bone" is a very fine one.

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments. This is why I think medical thrillers are so scary...the potential of our fiction is or could be realized in real life.

  9. Thanks, Margaret!

    And thank you Jordyn for having me as a guest blogger again. I love your site!

    1. Bette, it's always a pleasure having you. Many blessings to you and your writing career.