Kidney for Sale

The only country in the world where kidney trading is legal

There were 62 ads written by hand on the walls of the hospital. 62 people in Iran had compatible blood type with the one belonging to Ghaffar Naghdi, 24, the young member of a peasant family living in Southern Iran, who decided to sell their lands and properties to buy a kidney for their son. After months of researches and negotiations, Ghaffar found eventually Narin, 29, a young Kurdish woman who was desperate for money.

Iran is the only country in the world where kidneys trading is legal. Each year about 1,400 Iranians, aged between 18 and 35, sell one of their kidneys because they simply need more money to live. A kidney usually costs between two and five thousands Euros, depending on the age and health of the donor, while an average salary in the country is 350 Euros per month. But beside money, finding a kidney in Iran is pretty easy. And legal. There are thousands of ads written on the walls of the hospitals in the country, with phone numbers and names, which may be contacted to start bargaining. The price often varies depending on the demand and offer, which – strangely enough – is affected by the price of oil. Iran’s economy is based on the export of crude oil. When the price per barrel goes down, the entire nation simply needs more money to survive. Many Iranians have lost their jobs because of the recent decline in oil prices. Thousands have decided then to sell one kidney, generating an excess of offer and lowering the price.

In 2009, while young people were protesting against the re-election of Ahmadinejad, Ghaffar caught an infection which damaged both of his kidneys. From that moment on, he had to receive three dialysis sessions per week. On the other side Narin is the person who had sold him her kidney. She’s a Kurdish girl who lives in the Northwest of Iran. She and her husband are unemployed since a long time. That’s why they urgently need money to get by until the crisis – caused by low oil prices – will end.

The transplant took place in a public hospital on November 15th, 2014. Three weeks later Ghaffar died. He did not survive the new kidney rejection process.

( 2014 )