A number of Iranian state run websites and Telegram channels publish ads which appear to be car and home appliance advertisements. But when you take a closer look, you realize that body parts are being sold and bought.
Through official websites and Telegram channels, the Iranian regime is busy promoting the sale of kidneys, livers, corneas, bone marrow and other body parts, preying on the poorest sector of society.
One of the websites that promotes the kidney trade is kidney.fahadan.org which works under the name of a “comprehensive organ donors’ bank”. The website administrator communicates with donors via Telegram and an application called Soroush Messenger.
According to state-run media, Soroush was developed by a company owned by the IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) and like all Iran-developed apps, spies on its users. To this end, the app was removed from Apple’s App Store recently.
Our reporters have found that around 40 to 50 people registered to sell their kidneys on just one of these websites.
According to a number of people who have sold their kidneys, these so called charity organizations running the kidney trade make tons of money. Their system forces live donors to go through them to fill out various tables and consent forms. The whole “legal” process is under the control of the government with unknown individuals affiliated with the regime pocketing all the profit.
According to our reports, the charities buy the kidneys for 15 million tomans (around $3,000). They refrigerate it and after a while, sell it for 90 million tomans (around $21,000).
In this way, the regime affiliated organizations pocket 75 million tomans (around $18,000) from just one kidney.
Iran News Wire interviewed more than 80 live donors or those who intended to sell their kidneys inside Iran, in an effort to find the truth behind the increase of kidney sales. We reached these conclusion from the interviews:
All of the live donors or would be donors are between the ages of 17 and 40. It’s noteworthy that over 60% of them have higher education degrees. Some of the people we interviewed were holders of chemical engineering degrees, master’s degree in technical engineering and foreign language degrees. Some were even athletes who had lost their source of income due to recessions in their field of sports.
“I have four international sales management degrees”, said 30 year old Soroush from Tehran.
“Over the past two years, the country’s economic state reached the point where our sales were at their lowest compared to previous years. I was forced to get a loan to keep my credibility and now I have sell my kidney”, he said.
Twenty one year old Mojtaba was an elite student and an inventor. He presented a number of his inventions in the field of safety systems but was ignored. He sold his kidney as a means to make money.
“I was forced to eat stale bread leftovers out of poverty”, he said.
Another young man, 25 year old Javad said he was a body builder who became a champion in his province. He too was forced to sell his kidney out of poverty.
When asked why they sold their kidneys, they said they were forced to as a result of severe poverty, unemployment and heavy debts. They cannot marry and have a family of their own, or have lost their families, due to financial problems. Many of them have attempted suicide or have contemplated it.
“I have a degree in computer software development”, said 27 year old Sina.
“I was also a basketball player. I couldn’t find work. I couldn’t even find work as a cleaner. I tried acting in the theater and even opened my own store”, he added.
“But what’s the point? All of this led me here. My wife filed for a divorce and now I’m homeless. The police are after me because I haven’t paid her dowry and I have to sell my kidney”.
“I’ve thought about suicide many times and that I can easily commit suicide by injecting air into my vein”, Sina added.
The other group of live donors have families but cannot provide for them. Many of them explained how they have to sell their kidneys to provide for their families or to provide medicine for their children.
Twenty three year old Arash said that he didn’t have enough money to pay for his only child’s medication.
“I realized that there was nothing I could do”, he said.
“Now I have put my liver and cornea for sale so that at least my child will have something to eat and get medication”.
“I know that it will have heavy consequences for me. Our lives were wasted. I hope that our children will at least have a better life”, Arash added.
A number of the live donors owned shops in the Bazaar or elsewhere but had lost all their lifesavings as a result of the two year stalemate that has crippled the Iranian economy. They too were forced to sell their kidneys since they did not have insurance and were not given loans.
“I owned a factory but I went bankrupt”, Mustafa said.
“When you got creditors and the bank pressures you, you have no choice but to sell your kidney”, the 25 year old man who now works as a street peddler in the metro said.
“My sister is even thinking about selling her kidney”, he added.
Some of the people we spoke to had been engaged to be married for several years and were not able to marry due to financial problems. They sold their kidneys to get married, but still do not have enough to live on.
Other live donors who were involved in car accidents were injured and could not find any work.
A woman from Tehran said that in addition to selling her kidney, she had also rented her womb.
“The process is carried out through legal centers but the contracts are signed outside of the center”, she said.
Those who rent their wombs get 20 to 30 million tomans (around $4,700 to $7,000) and 500,000 tomans (around $115) a month.
Sara has a six year old daughter. Her husband has been jailed for not being able to pay his debt and the 27 year old woman has sold her kidney to make ends meet.
Another young woman, Zeinab, said that she had to sell her kidney to help pay her debts for university.
“If I don’t pay my debts, I cannot continue my education”, said the 18 year old student.
Of course body organ transplantation is one of the most valuable human advances in the field of medicine, while the donation of body organs to those in need is a selfless and admirable act.
Nevertheless in Iran, where more than 40 percent of the population is under the poverty line and where the official currency has lost one third of its value, extreme poverty is the only reason Iranians sell their organs. Government organizations use this extreme poverty to prey on Iranians, making huge profits from the organ trade. This is the same system responsible for the severe economic downfall and for looting Iran’s wealth with its deceitful policies.