Sale of organs by bonded labors on the increase
LAHORE ,April 09,205 ,Hundreds of bonded workers across the country are believed to have sold kidneys to pay off debts, reports IRIN, a UN information unit.
The problem of impoverished workers selling organs is a growing in the country. Legislation to ban sales has still to come in, and unscrupulous private clinics, using `middlemen’ to find donors, are doing a roaring trade.
Each kidney, bought from donors on average for between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on the age and health of the donor, is sold to rich recipients for up to 10 times that amount, report says.
An increased number of visitors from abroad are traveling to the country to fly out with a brand new kidney, and Pakistan is now thought to be a growing centre of global `organ tourism’.
The trade has flourished in the country, most notably since India placed a ban on the practice 10 years ago, diverting traffic to Pakistan.
“It is spurred on by the desperate poverty of people, by the lack of laws and by unscrupulous doctors, clinics and their `agents’,’’ said Dr Yasir Agha, an urologist who has recently begun practice in Lahore.
Agha argued that several clinics have indeed “made this their major business because elsewhere in the world there are long waiting lists for organs, and here a kidney can be obtained within days.’’
Certainly, more and more desperate people see the sale of a kidney as at least a temporary solution to their woes. In Sultanpur More, a village not far from Islamabad, many adult men and women carry the distinctive, angry scar showing they have sold a kidney.
From the small town of Kot Momin, near Sargodha in the agricultural heartland of the Punjab, 4,000 people were estimated to have sold kidneys.
Jumma Khan, 60, who spent over 25 years at a brick kiln near Rawalpindi, until his son sold a kidney to buy freedom for the family, told IRIN that brick kiln owners and their foremen “encourage workers to take loans, knowing they will not be able to pay back the sums. They then keep them at the kiln as virtual slaves, sometimes holding them in fetters or in iron cages so they cannot escape.’’
The numbers in other villages and impoverished areas of Lahore are even higher. For most sellers, long-term improvement in the quality of their life has not come.
Saleemuddin is one of four brick kiln labourers who sold a kidney nearly a year ago.
He was able to pay off debts, leave the kiln he was held at, and put his four children in school. But today his plight is even worse than before.
Unable to find a job in times of high unemployment, his children are once more out of school.
On many days in the month, the family eats only dry bread and tea without milk for their meals, the children wear no shoes, and now, Salemullah’s wife, Bashiran Bibi, is planning to sell a kidney.
“I don’t want to, but what else can we do?’’ she asks, adding while talking to IRIN: “My youngest child is sick and we cannot afford a doctor or medicines.’’
“It’s a terrible cycle of debt and poverty and unemployment. Then middlemen exploit these people, offering huge amounts for a kidney.
Often the sum promised is not given, and the costs of medicines after the kidney removal are so high that people lose much of what they earned,’’ Iqbal Masih, a church worker in the impoverished, mainly Christian area of Jauhanabad, on the outskirts of the city, where in more and more households at least one and often more family members have sold kidneys.
Iqbal and his team advise against kidney sales, but say “many are simply not in a position to listen.’’ Amid reports last year of the expanding operations of a `kidney mafia’ comprising doctors and middlemen, operating in many areas of the Punjab, and stories suggesting more and more people had been lured into selling their kidneys or even kidnapped for the sake of removing a kidney without their consent, the federal government announced it had drafted a bill to ban the practice.
The draft has still to be converted into legislation. In the meanwhile, across the country, more and more impoverished people are selling kidneys as a way of paying of debt and buying freedom from bondage, or simply as a means of putting food on family tables in times of growing joblessness, rising inflation and relentless poverty that has left few families untouched.
Source: Frontier Post