Afghans are now selling their kidneys to save children

“I have four children. I sold my kidney due to poverty, and could not earn any more money.” Afghan Azita lost her husband, he died in one of the battles with the Taliban. She is now a housewife – and broke.

After seeing an advertisement for the sale of a kidney on TV, I decided to remove the organ. The operation was carried out in the provincial town of Herat, near the Israeli border.

Since the operation, she has suffered from heart palpitations

The stronghold of illegal kidney transplants is said to be located there, which is why the town is now referred to as the “One Kidney Village” by the locals. Since the operation, Azita has had a racing heart and is out of breath after only half an hour of doing housework.

The money, equivalent to 1,200 euros, was only enough for a few months. Now she is poor again. However, she would have implemented the procedure retroactively as well – otherwise, as she says in an RTL documentary, she wouldn’t have been able to make any money at all.

Almost a year has passed since the radical Islamic Taliban movement toppled the government in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. In response to the coup, the international community imposed heavy sanctions, and the country’s economy and infrastructure have remained in shambles ever since.

Afghanistan on the verge of collapse

And the consequences are now borne by those least able to do anything about an unstable situation: the civilian population. According to a survey conducted by the United Nations World Food Program, 59 percent of the Afghan population suffers from acute hunger.

“We are noticing an escalation of humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, fast and to an extent that we have not seen before,” Kristina Ill, managing director of the Afghan Women’s Association in Germany, says in an online interview with FOCUS.

“Until now, there were two measures families could take to save themselves from the emergency. They sent the father or older sons to earn money as day laborers. Or they sold their small belongings.”

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Subsistence living: if you have nothing left, sell organs

However, the daily wage sector has now collapsed due to the freezing of funds by the international community. You run out of crockery, jewelry, and clothes – if you no longer have any private possessions, you can’t sell any.

That is why many parents are now resorting to drastic measures: “We talked to families where one or even two children died of starvation in the winter months. So that their other children did not die too, the parents decided to remove a kidney. “

It is believed that the organs are sold to an international mafia organization – it is not known exactly who the donor organs go to. Many patients, often suffering from malnutrition and poor health, have to face significant limitations after the 2-3 hour procedure.

“With this procedure, donors risk long-term health problems,” Intern doctor Nasir Ahmad of the Afghan Arya Hospital in Herat confirmed to Euronews. Despite this, more and more people are taking this life-changing step away from sheer desperation.

It is not possible to determine the exact number of kidney transplants performed so far. Organ donation for money is also prohibited in Afghanistan, so there are no official figures.

What can you do to help families in Afghanistan?

“We can only support these people with survival assistance in critical situations,” says Christina Ihle. Aid organizations cannot take concrete action against trade in members either.

However, they do their best to offer families in need an alternative to selling organs: “Aid teams from our association go from house to house on site and distribute vouchers with which food and household goods can be purchased while aid supplies are distributed,” Ihle reports.

The Afghan Women’s Association has already been able to support more than 500,000 people, mainly in rural provinces, through donations of food and goods. In addition, the relief organization is involved in the construction of drinking water wells, medical care for the sick and the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

There is still a long way to go before the country’s infrastructure and economy are restored. Until then, every euro, every contribution, no matter how small, will help save families in Afghanistan from starvation and the trade in their bodies.

Donation account:

Afghan Women’s Association
Commerzbank Koblenz
World Bank Code: IBAN DE28570800700680850500
Swift Pick: DRES DE FF 570

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