By Lara Balick

On March 14th, Aamir Malik, a 27-year-old cattle trader from Pandoli village of Gujarat, India, reported to the police that he was allegedly cheated into selling his kidney to repay his debt. Malik had told his friends that he was looking for an interest-free loan to pay off his debt of Rs 1 lakh (~$1500). Malik claims that on February 12th his “friends” brought him “drugged and unconscious” to a Delhi hospital where his kidney was harvested without his consent. He received Rs 2.3 lakh (~$3460), with which he paid off his debt and saved the rest for his daughters, ages three and one.

Pandoli villagers confirm that selling off a kidney to repay debt is a “common practice.” At least 13 men in Pandoli between the ages of 20 and 35 are missing a kidney. Under the Organ Transplantation Act of 1994, these kinds of transactions are illegal. Donors and recipients must be registered with an organ donation committee and donors cannot be compensated for their organs. Nonetheless, transplant hospitals still “send their agents” to search for kidneys. The sale of organs because of financial necessity is becoming more and more common.

The global demand for organs, especially kidneys, continues to exceed the supply. This discrepancy has led to a burgeoning market for illegal organs. Malik’s story is not an anomaly; organ trafficking is exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable groups in Pandoli village and around the world.

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