Investigation launched after Spaniards look to sell organs to make ends meet
CREDIT crunch hit Spaniards are stooping to methods rarely seen outside of the Third World; selling organs to transplant tourists.
Consumer association Facua has reported dozens of internet advertisements to sell organs to the police.
It has led to at least one investigation in Sevilla where a man offered a kidney for sale.
“The bank is on my back, If I could think of some other way of raising the money, believe me, I would.”
Spanish “kidney for sale” advertisements have become increasingly common abroad as the recession starts to bite.
Sergio, a 42-year-old welder and father of four, said he had received an offer of 20,000 euros from a German couple who needed his kidney for their five-year-old son.
If tests showed them to be compatible, an operation would be performed in a third country since such transactions are illegal in Europe.
“Apparently, there’s a waiting list of at least five years for a kidney in Germany,” he told a television programme, “but in five years the kid will be dead.”
Alberto, an unemployed construction worker in Valencia with two small children, told a newspaper how he was afraid of ending up on the street because he could no longer pay his mortgage.
“The bank is on my back,” he said. “If I could think of some other way of raising the money, believe me, I would.”
His biggest fear was that he might fall into the hands of professional traffickers who might operate on him without paying.
He said the price of 150,000 euros was negotiable but he wanted at least half of the money up-front before going under the knife. He said he had not yet received any offers.
Spanish medical experts said that prices in Spain were much higher than in countries outside Europe. For instance, a kidney can be acquired in Pakistan or Brazil for £1,000. Transplant tourism has been thriving in many Asian and South American countries for years.
Some buyers might prefer a kidney from Europe in the belief that it is healthier than one from the Third World. However, a doctor in a hospital outside Europe would have to perform the operation, said Rafael Matesanz, director of Spain’s national transplant office.
“In general, transplant tourists prefer a complete package,” he added.
This did not stop Edgar, a 44-year-old mechanic who lost his job in August last year, from placing an advertisement for his kidney on the internet in the hope of paying off debts of 90,000 euros.
Kidney problems affect about 10 per cent of the global adult population and there are two million new cases of renal failure each year. Sufferers can die within a few weeks unless they receive a kidney transplant or undergo dialysis, an expensive procedure for cleansing the blood.
The World Health Organisation estimates that about 70,000 kidney transplants are performed each year, of which 20 per cent are carried out on the black market in countries including China, Pakistan, Egypt and Colombia.