Exclusive -Iran, HumanRights : Selling Body Parts in Iran: An Untold Tragedy

| 20.09,19. 01:20 AM |

Exclusive -Iran, HumanRights : Selling Body Parts in Iran: An Untold Tragedy

Iran, HumanRights, poverty, economy, Body Organ Sale The sign reads: Urgent sale of Kidney, female 23  years old, O+, for God's sake, do not tear apart this ad, I desperately need the money". An ad from one of many desperate people that are living in poverty under the rule of the mullahs, and are forced to sell their body organs to make their livings.

Written by Staff Writer on 19 September 2019.

September 2019

Foreign Affairs Committee of National Council of Resistance of Iran

As the economy is falling apart, a lucrative business is on the rise in Iran: selling bodily organs. It might be the most unique trade in the world.

In recent years, rising living costs and poverty have greatly contributed to the booming business. It has become a systemic problem throughout the country.

Kidneys are most in-demand, but a business that started more than a decade ago is no longer limited to the kidney but includes liver, bone marrow, and cornea. The liver is the second most frequently traded organ. Blood plasma is the latest addition to the list.

Buyers and sellers

Buyers are those in dire need of an organ transplant.

Sellers are those in dire financial need for whom the organ market is the last resort. Sellers are both male and female. Most of those willing to sell their kidney are young people between ages 22 and 34. But there are older people who want to sell their body parts too.

Most of the buyers prefer to purchase younger organs. Since organs offered by young people are not in short supply, buyers usually have no problem in finding what they want.

The chart below provides a glimpse of the range of sellers of kidneys in early September 2019

Average prices in a middleman market- Scope of the business

Organ Prices are not fixed but constantly change. The prices depend on a number of factors such as the sellers’ age, the seriousness of the patient’s condition, the severity of the patient’s health condition, how urgently the organ is needed and how desperate the seller is. Seller’s blood type is a factor too. For example, O- and B+ blood types are more expensive.

Average Market prices in 2018

Below are rough prices for the body organs in 2018:

-Kidney: between 500 million to 1 billion rials ($5,000 to $10,000)

-Liver: between 1.5 billion to 5 billion rials ($15,000 to $50,000)

- Cornea: 2 billion rials ($20,000)

- Bone marrow: 1 billion rials ($10,000)

Statistics indicate that nearly 3,800 kidney transplants are performed in Iran every year. Of these, about 500 come from donors who are in a vegetative state. Some of the kidneys are donated by relatives to loved ones who are in dire need of kidney transplant.  About 3000 kidneys are provided as a trade.

Methods of selling and buying – The lucrative business of organ brokerage

Buying and selling organs takes place through different methods.

-Direct sales

Many sellers post their contact details and details of the organ they want to sell on the walls of buildings near hospitals. The details include the sellers’ age, blood type and the organ they want to sell. Many beg the pedestrians not to erase their announcements from the wall since they are desperate and need the money urgently.  The sellers usually prefer to contact the prospective candidate directly to avoid giving a commission to the middlemen.

uying and selling through brokers

However, being a broker of bodily organs has evolved into a lucrative business for a number of people. Their job is to identify desperate people who urgently need an organ for their relative or are in dire need of the money they could obtain from selling one.

The kidney and liver markets are hot for brokers. Instagram and Telegram apps are among their preferred platforms. The middlemen have also set up websites where they ask sellers to sign up and leave their details for buyers to find.  Both sides pay the broker’s commission.

One of the sites is http://koliyecenter.mihanblog.com/.      

(Koliyeh in Farsi means kidney)

Images of the first two pages of the site in early September 2019

Hello, I do not want to sell my kidney. If someone is in real need, I am willing to donate, 34 years old, blood type: B+ Phone: 09351258580

Selling healthy kidney, resident of Sannandaj (west Iran), blood type: O- Phone: 09182738119. Please only send SMS.

Male, 26 years old, willing to sell a kidney due to financial problems. Blood type: O+. Price: 600 million rials ($5300). Phone: 09358543614

Hello, I am Omid. Willing to sell part of my life, my kidney and bone marrow on the agreed price. It is urgent, urgent. If it is not done quickly, I will go to jail. The respected buyer or the broker, please send an SMS first. Phone: 09267272232

Seyed Morteza:
Hello. I am 27. I am healthy. I want to sell my kidney under the market price for 400 million rials ($3600). The buyer please either call or send an SMS. Phone number: 09176261905. Blood type: B+. Totally healthy.

Seyed Morteza:
Hello. I am 27. I am an athlete. My kidney is completely healthy. Willing to take any test necessary. Blood type: B+. 400 million rials ($3600). It is below the market price. I am not going to sell it for any lower price. Please do not bargain. Please. I need the money urgently.

Seyed Morteza:
Hello. I am 28. I run our family. For the sickness of my mother, for what I owe, want to sell my kidney. I am an athlete and totally healthy. I sell immediately. Please either send a Whatsapp message or call. Blood type: B+. Phone: 09176261905.

No name:
Hello. I am willing to sell my kidney for 250 million rials ($2,200). This is the price set by the kidney association. Since I need the money urgently, I am willing to come to anywhere in Iran. Blood type: O+. Phone: 09903615617.

Urgent sale of a healthy kidney. Blood type: A+. Phone: 09917545846.

Selling kidney. Blood type: +B. Price 500 million rials ($4400). Phone: 09306098563.

God would damn the owner of this site.

Urgent sale of Kidney. I am a 30-years old woman. Blood type: O+. Phone: 09382635890

In addition to functioning through the Internet, brokers often wander around major hospitals and approach relatives of patients who need a transplant in order to assess their financial status and make an offer an offer. Brokers often take a 50 percent commission on resulting sales.

One of the brokers who has been in the business for years explained his modus operandi in 2013:

“First I began by selling and buying a kidney, near one of the hospitals in Vanak Square (a wealthy neighborhood in northern Tehran).  The area nearby the hospital is filled with advertisements for selling kidneys. I spent a whole day to find sellers. I talked to them and collected the necessary information.  The main problem was finding a customer. Most of the sellers I talked to were unable to identify them. But I had grown up in Bazar (traditional central market) and knew how to trade. The first step was to have access to the details of the people who needed a kidney transplant and were in a waiting list, waiting for someone to donate a kidney. After a month I obtained such a list.”

“Finally, after two months, I made my first deal. There was one person who had been looking for a healthy kidney for a long time. Most people who advertise organ sales are usually addicts or have other physical problems. So he didn't trust the ads. I was able to get connected to him. By chance, I had the telephone number of a young man who needed money to fund her mother's surgery and was ready to sell his kidney in 2008 for 60 million rials ($ 6,000 with the exchange rate at the time). To the buyer who was in a huge hurry, I offered the price of 80 million rials (equivalent to $ 8,000) and eventually, the deal went on, and 20 million rials ($ 2,000) went to my pocket. Twenty million rials was not little money at the time.”

“With the initiatives I took, I was able to thrive and since 2011 I have been trading in other transplanting organs too. After two years, I hired several people to roam around hospitals and to find clients for me. Then, I hired a few people to somehow get the reports of brain-dead patients from the hospitals for me, and after that, I went on to sell other body organs.

“Now many people know me, even some physicians refer me to their patients. That's why my list of sellers and buyers is increasing every day.

“I currently have 20 marketers. There are also six guys who work in the office, I have to give a fee to the specialist doctors for advice that costs at least 500 million rials ($ 14,000 at the time of exchange) a month and, of course, I have to pay for the psychologist and lawyer as well. Sometimes I have to change them and in order to keep them silent, I have to give them a few hundreds of millions of rials. So the current monthly cost of the operation and the office is about 700 million ($ 23,000 at the time of exchange)."[3]

He estimated his income per month as 1 billion to 2 billion rials (28 to 56 thousand dollars a month at the exchange rate in 2013).

According to another dealer, “Most of those who sell their kidneys are from the lower strata of the society. I find them through friends who live in small towns or poor suburbs. Subsequently, they are satisfied and the price is set. Of course, they are introduced as the donor and the acquaintance of the patient to make the job easier."

Alley of "Farhang Hosseini," known as "Kidney Street" in Tehran

In Tehran, Farhang Hosseini Alley (central Tehran) is known as Kidney Street. The central building of the Association of Support for Kidney patients is located in the middle of this alley.

In previous years A4 papers had filled all sides of the alley. Tags full of cell phone numbers were placed all over the walls. All the walls of this alley were full of sale advertisements. Some people had written their message on the wall or on a sheet of paper with a pen or marker. Some had painted their ads on the wall. The message of all the murals on this street’s buildings was the same: sales and purchasing ads for kidneys, livers and even corneas. The phone numbers and blood types of sellers were also mentioned in the ads.  Some ads contained dates. "Kidney A +, for sale, December 2018 ...,", "A 28-year-old, athlete, blood type O Negative... at whatever price you want "… Many insisted that they are not willing to deal with the broker and want to deal directly with the buyer.

In the last couple of years, instead of paper advertisements, the walls are filled with big, bold lines with sharp colors like red, the name of a kidney seller and his or her contact number. Throughout the alley, you can't find a door, a wall, or even a garage without organ sellers’ phone numbers on them.

Some companies have officially placed big advertisements on the walls of this alley. For example: "Alvand Company, buying and selling kidneys without intermediaries; phone number”

“Kidneys of all blood types: O, B, O-, O+ and etc., are sold.”

The following are pictures of Farhang Hosseini alley.

A wall in Farhang Hosseini alley filled with selling and buying advertisements

The advertisement sign reads: “Kidney for sale. Blood type: O+

A wall in Farhang Hosseini alley filled with selling and buying advertisements

"Alvand Company, buying and selling kidneys without intermediaries; phone number”



[3] https://www.isna.ir/news/92091913732/%D9%86%D8%A7%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%D9%87-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AA%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AF%D9%87%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%DB%8C%DA%A9-%D8%AF%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%B6%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D9%86  

[4] http://www.salamatnews.com/news/259281/%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7-%D8%AC%D9%80%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B4%D9%86%D8%AF

[5] http://shafaonline.ir/fa/news/215641/%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C

[6] http://newspaper.hamshahri.org/id/44619/%DA%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%81%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%87.html

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