How do I sell my kidney in Hyderabad - Dialogue with the Islamic World

Muhammad Iqbal was once a bear of a man. Nowadays the former factory worker is in so bad health that he cannot even practice his favorite sport, "kabaddi", an ancient Southeast Asian variant of wrestling.

The 44-year-old Pakistani himself is to blame for this. In 2012, the father of eight made a decision that was to ruin his life: "I was in debt over both ears," reports Iqbal. "Back then I was working in a brick factory near Lahore, in northeastern Pakistan, and borrowed the equivalent of around 1,600 euros from my boss. Although I worked around the clock, the mountain of debt kept growing. I was so desperate I would have done anything to have more money in my pocket. "

"Sell ​​your kidney"

His cousin Ashraf would then have had this idea. He could sell his kidney to make money. At first the idea would have shocked him. But the misery in which he had lived at the time forced him to think about it again. His cousin, who had sold his kidney himself six months earlier, ultimately persuaded him to take the step.

"He explained the whole process to me, how easy it would be. Most of all, he assured me that I would not die during the operation. That was the biggest worry I had."

His cousin then also organized the meeting with Faqir Hussain, a man from Lahore who sells kidneys. "Hussain offered me that he would buy my kidney for the equivalent of just under 940 euros. I managed to sell it up to 1,160 euros." He was first subjected to a whole series of medical tests. They wanted to make sure that "I did not suffer from a serious illness".

Detailed health check

He was then asked to come to Rawalpindi, about 300 kilometers away, the former seat of the Pakistani government: "I cannot remember the exact date. But I am sure that in winter 2012 we took a bus from Lahore to Rawalpindi to have."

They arrived at dawn and were picked up by drivers who "were waiting for them and took them to a palatial building near the city center. The house belonged to Faqir Hussain."

The gangs that organize the kidney business have a reputation for being particularly nice with donors before an operation. Muhammad Iqbal also had this experience: "First we should shower, then we were offered something to eat straight away."

After a few hours the tests would have started. "We were subjected to a whole series of medical examinations for eight days."

They stayed in Rawalpindi for a total of 15 days and had food and accommodation provided. "Because the test results weren't clear for all of them, they sent some back home."

The hospitals in which such operations are performed often hide under a false identity. In the case of Muhammad Iqbal, it was an eye clinic. "In the basement of this clinic there was a state-of-the-art ward where kidney operations were performed. I was taken to the hospital on the day of the operation.

It was there that I met Pathal, the recipient of my kidney. He paid me a little more than the agreed price. "Every single one of the doctors and nurses knew about it." Some also expressed their condolences to us.

The doctors - just like the gang involved - had legally secured themselves as well as possible, according to Iqbal: "Before the operation, a doctor asked me to confirm in writing that I had decided to do the operation of my own free will, and that I did The hospital would not have to pay for possible complications or damage as a result of the operation in any way. This would also have applied if I had died during the operation. "

An operation with disastrous consequences

But it didn't come to that - just one day after the operation, which took place under general anesthesia, he took a bus home. As Iqbal was soon to find out, his ordeal was only now beginning. "Of the almost 1,160 euros I received for my kidney, I had to spend around 290 euros on medication alone. I should have eaten a lot of beef, but I couldn't afford it. So I still had to pay off my original debt sell my rickshaw. "

Today he is a broken man: Due to the health restrictions as a result of the operation, he had to give up his regular work in the brick factory. He could only take on odd jobs, which resulted in new debts.

"So that we don't suffocate in the mountain of debt, my two daughters, 13 and 12 years old, have to work as housemaids in Lahore. They don't even earn ten euros a month and have to live in the house there too."

"Never," admits Iqbal tearfully, would he advise anyone to go their own way. "I urge the government to cancel their debts and raise the minimum wage to the thousands of people affected, who, like me, cannot get out of this financial downward spiral."

Because one thing is clear: Nobody would sell their kidney voluntarily. Only the fight against poverty in the country is an effective method, according to Iqbal, in order to "put an end to these gangs of criminals".

Sattar Khan

© Deutsche Welle 2018