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Organ trade tragedy: Greedy kidney dealers prey on uneducated Nepalese villagers

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  • At least one person in nearly every family in Nepal’s Kavre province has sold a kidney on the black market.
  • Nepalese kidney transplant patients can only legally obtain donor organs from a relative, so the underground trade has thrived.
  • Dealers exploit the extreme poverty and lack of education in the region to turn a tidy profit.
  • Many victims have been told the operation would not affect their health or that their kidney would grow back.
  • Donors are hugely underpaid and left with irreparably damaged health.
  • Many of the black market dealers started their business by selling one of their own organs.
  • RTD Docs met with people from all sides of Nepal’s illegal organ market to find out how it has reached such appalling levels

Kavre province in Nepal has been dubbed ‘Kidney valley’, as there’s hardly a household in which a family member hasn’t sold one of their kidneys on the black market.

There is no legal way for patients to obtain donor organs other than from a relative. In the absence of a suitable familial match, a patient’s only chance of survival is to turn to the underground organ trade.

Grim dealers exploit the region’s extreme poverty and the people’s lack of education about health and medicine.

Many victims have been told that the process would have no impact on their health or even that their kidney would grow back.

Desperate to escape debt and support their families, impoverished villagers have agreed to the irreversible surgery, only to be hugely underpaid and left with their health irreparably damaged.

While Nepal’s transplant patients often have no way to obtain life-saving organs, other than the black market, naïve and underprivileged villagers are easy prey for organ dealers who turn a tidy profit from the devastating trade.

Ironically many of them started in the business by selling one of their own organs.

RT Doc meets people from all sides of the illegal organ market to ask how and why it has reached today’s appalling levels.

For an up-close look into the lives of both the dealers and the victims, watch Kidney Valley on RTD Docs.