The community of San Jose in Costa Rica is shocked after the arrest of a Greek immigrant, a local pizzeria owner, who stands accused of involvement in an organ trafficking ring.
The Greek man owns the “Akropolis” pizzeria, situated across Calderon Guardia Hospital in San Jose. He originates from Piraeus and emigrated from Greece in the early 90s. He is married to a Costa Rican wife and has no criminal background.
The Greek man served as an intermediary in the ring: he was in charge of finding foreign patients, mainly Greeks, who needed a kidney transplant and were willing to pay large sums. He then set about convincing poor people to sell their organs for a reward. Finally, he brought the victims into contact with doctors, who oversaw the procedure.
The Greek’s restraining order prohibiting him from leaving Costa Rica expires this week. His close friends and associates claim that he is innocent. They note that he has never taken any money and that he has been targeted because he owns a restaurant conveniently close to the hospital.
According to Greek newspaper “Kathimerini,” medical tourism in Costa Rica is not a new trend. Since the mid-70s, the country has received approximately 50,000 people interested in various types of surgeries annually.
It is estimated that between 1994 and 2013, 50 Greeks exploited markets in India in search of a new kidney. 12 went to Pakistan, 2 to Syria and 2 to Costa Rica. The average waiting time for a kidney transplant in Greece is currently 6 to 7 years. As of last January, 1,084 Greeks are waiting for a kidney from a cadaveric donor.