Organ trade in the world: Poor people sell their kidneys to buy mobile phones or motorcycles

While voluntary organ donation is common, whether to a family member or even a complete stranger, researchers say the illicit trade in human organs, primarily kidneys, often exploits vulnerable people, and comes with medical, psychological, social and legal risks.

A team of researchers from the Education, Health and Social Sciences Research Center in Nepal set out to try to understand why people sell their organs, according to PLOS Global Health.

They found that although poverty was the main cause, ignorance was also an important factor, as those without a financial safety net were often forced to sell one of their kidneys to pay off financial debts. In other cases, money used to sell organs helped purchase land, while family obligations such as dowries were often cited as a reason. In Brazil and South Africa, family responsibility was the main driver, while organ trafficking was the main reason for selling kidneys in the Netherlands, Israel and Moldova.

However, the team also noted that in Nepal, people were selling one of their kidneys to buy luxury items, such as motorcycles, mobile phones and televisions. “Kidney sellers are often unaware of the consequences of selling a kidney, such as disabilities of varying degrees including frailty, chronic kidney disease, (social) stigma, and unexpected complications,” they wrote in the scientific journal. “Selling body parts to exchange them for luxury goods may be an extreme form of transaction,” they added.

The team also highlighted the crime of kidney trafficking, which can involve “exploitation, deception and coercion to persuade people to give up their organs, and is often directed by an intermediary.” Even more surprisingly, the study revealed that sometimes, victims of organ trafficking become They are brokers themselves.

The authors also noted the lack of policies and controls to regulate kidney transplants.

“Although there is a wide range of reasons for selling kidneys worldwide, there has been a dearth of efforts to mitigate them,” they wrote. “Kidney selling is a complex phenomenon and is shaped by a myriad of factors and their interactions.” The team also highlighted social inequality, corruption and inadequate health infrastructure.