Organ transplants become increasingly common with every passing year. Unfortunately, even though there are more and more transplants every year, the list of people who need the transplants grows even faster. The illegal organ market is something that frequently shows up in movies and on television, but is a very real danger. The sale of human organs for transplantation is a sever crime in Nevada and carries with it harsh penalties including jail time and fines.

Where can I find the statute relating to the sale of human organs for transplantation?

NRS 201.460 defines the crime of Sale of Human Organs for Transplantation.

NRS 201.450 – Sale, acquisition, receipt or transfer for consideration of human organ for transplantation prohibited; penalty.

  1. A person shall not knowingly sell, acquire, receive or otherwise transfer for valuable consideration any human organ for use in human transplantation.
  2. As used in this section:
    1. “Human organ” includes the human kidney, liver, heart, lung, bone marrow and any other part of the human body except blood.
    2. “Valuable consideration” does not include the reasonable payments associated with the removal, transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control or storage of a human organ or the expenses of travel, housing and lost wages incurred by the donor in connection with the donation of a human organ.
  3. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

This seems pretty straightforward. Is there anything I should know?

  • Organ – Basically any part of the body, with the exception of blood, constitutes an “organ”.
  • Consideration – Understanding the consideration is a bit trickier. Payment for the organ itself is prohibited. However, payment for other reasonable costs associated with organ transplantation are not prohibited. Some of the reasonable costs that are not prohibited include:
    • Transportation costs for the organ;
    • Travel and transportation costs for the donor if they live elsewhere;
    • Housing costs if the donor needs to travel for the procedure;
    • Lost wages if the donor misses work as a result of the procedure;
    • Fees associated with the medical procedure itself;
    • The costs associated with preserving the organ and its tissue.

What are the possible penalties?

The sale of human organ for transplantation is a misdemeanor in Nevada, which carries with it:

  • Up to 6 months in a county jail; and/or
  • Possible fines up to $1,000.

Are there any Defenses?

Yes, of course there are. Some of the possible defenses include:

  • No consideration – If the money paid was only for the reasonable costs listed above, and was not payment for the organ itself, then there was no sale of a human organ, and the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
  • No knowledge – If you are the recipient of an illegally sold organ, but you had no knowledge of the sale and purchase of the organ, nor did you have any reason to know of the sale or purchase, then you cannot be charged under NRS 201.460. Moreover, if you are the donor of the organ, but had no reason to know that there was an illegal payment made in relation to the organ donation, then you cannot be charged.
  • Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with Sale of a human organ for transplantation?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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