Afghans are now selling their kidneys to save children

“I have four children. I sold my kidney because of poverty, I couldn’t earn any other money.” Afghan Azita lost her husband, he died in one of the battles with the Taliban. Now she is a housewife – and without money.

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

Since the operation, she has suffered from palpitations

The stronghold of illegal kidney transplants is said to be there, which is why the town is now also referred to as “one-nyney village” by the locals. Since the operation, Azita has had a pounding heart and is out of breath after just half an hour of household chores.

The money, equivalent to around 1200 euros, only lasted a few months. Now she is poor again. Nevertheless, she would also have the procedure carried out in retrospect – otherwise, she says in an RTL documentary, she would not have been able to make any money at all.

Almost a year has passed since the radical Islamist Taliban overthrew the government of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. In response to the coup, the international community imposed severe sanctions, and the country’s economy and infrastructure have been in chaos ever since.

Afghanistan on the brink of collapse

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

“We are observing an escalation of humanitarian need in Afghanistan at a speed and on a scale that we have never experienced before,” said Christina Ihle, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Association in Germany, in an interview with FOCUS online.

“Until now, there have been two actions families could take to save themselves from their emergency situation. They either sent the father or the older sons to earn the necessary money as day laborers. Or they sold the little possessions they had.”

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Living on a subsistence level: If you have nothing left, sell organs

However, the day labor sector has now collapsed due to the international community freezing funds. Services, jewelery and clothing have run out – if you no longer have private property, you cannot sell anything.

This is why many fathers and mothers are now resorting to drastic measures: “We spoke to families where one or even two children starved to death during the winter months. In order to prevent their other children from also dying, the parents decided to remove a kidney.”

The organs are believed to be sold to an international mafia organization – exactly where and to whom the donor organs go is not known. Many patients, who are often malnourished and in poor health, must contend with significant limitations after the two- to three-hour operation.

“With the procedure, the donors risk long-term health problems,” internist Nasir Ahmad from the Afghan Aria Hospital in Herat confirms the precarious situation to “Euronews”. Despite this, more and more people are taking this life-changing step out of sheer desperation.

The exact number of kidney transplants performed so far cannot be determined. Organ donation for money is also banned 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 aid in an acute situation,” says Christina Ihle. Nor can the aid organizations take concrete action against the trade in organs.

Nevertheless, they do everything they can 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 items can be purchased during the distribution of aids. “, reports Ihle.

The Afghan Women’s Association has already been able to support more than 500,000 people, especially in rural areas, with donations of food and goods. In addition, the aid organization is involved in the construction of drinking water boreholes, 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 trafficking in their own bodies.

Donation account:

Afghan Women’s Association
Commerzbank Koblenz
International bank code: IBAN DE28570800700680850500
SWIFT BIC.: DRES DE FF 570

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