Hundreds of poor and displaced people have sold their vital organs for a small price in the western province of Herat.
Confirmed figures show that over 1,000 kidneys have been traded in Herat over the last five years. Over 100 of such people who have sold their kidneys are living in the Se Shanba Bazar village in Injil district in Herat, and are relatives of one another. They said they succumbed to the business offer for their organs due to poverty and unemployment.
Some women and children are among those who have sold kidneys.
Six residents of the village, who were displaced from neighboring Badghis province, said they sold their kidneys due to poverty. They were paid $300,000 Afs ($3,800) each.
“I sold my kidney because I had no other option. Our economy is very poor. There wasn’t any job in our own province in Badghis. I went to Iran many times, but my brothers and I were deported because we traveled to Iran illegally and we owed money to smugglers and we had no option but to sell our kidneys to get some money,” said Ghulam Nabi, a resident of the village in Herat but who was originally from Badghis.
“I regret selling my kidney. I am not the same as when I had two kidneys. I see a difference in myself. I have been divided into two. I cannot work with shovel and I cannot do hard work except sitting at home or working at a shop where I can get 100 Afs ($1.2) daily,” said Abdul Ghani, a resident of the village who was originally from Badghis.
The residents of the village said that seven children, aged between 7 to 12, are among those who have sold their kidneys.
“I came from Badghis and sold my kidney. I sent 250,000 Afs ($3,200) to my family as we had nothing,” said Bibi Gul, a resident of the village.
“We had nothing. I sold my kidney and sent money to my family,” said Khadija, a resident of the village.
The kidneys of the residents of the village have been transplanted in Loqman-e-Hakim Hospital, an entrepreneurial hospital, which is the country’s first kidney transplantation center. Officials of the hospital said that the transplantation of kidneys is done legally and the donors are not paid.
“From a legal point of view, there is no limitation to do kidney transplants, not only in Afghanistan but in any other country. Kidney transplants have been done for the last 60 years. We completely reject the (illegal) kidney trade. We know nothing about this,” said Farid Ahmad Ijaz, a doctor at the hospital. “Those who visit the hospital and donate their kidney to us sign on a letter and all tests are done for them.”
“Some opportunists who have changed this into a heinous trade are taking advantage of the people’s vulnerability and are sending the displaced people’s kidneys to other provinces and even abroad,” said Mahdi Hadid, member provincial council in Herat.
The Ministry of Public Health said that the organ business is illegal and that only members of one family can opt for the transplant of organs to their own relatives. The ministry called for a probe into the kidney business in the city of Herat.
“According to a regulation prepared by the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan, no one except members of one family can donate his or her kidney to others,” said Dastgir Nazari, spokesman for Ministry of Public Health.