It may be called the “village of scars”. Scars on human dignity, before the physical body. Almost everyone has one, well visible, at their waist. It is an identity sign. It means: “I am poor, I sold a kidney”. They call it the “village of the kidneys”, whereas its true name is Hokse, in Nepal, Asia Minor. For organ traffickers it is a goldmine of low-cost human spare parts, with the complicity of the doctors, often unscrupulous specialized surgeons, who operate under conditions of illegality and without respecting basic hygiene rules.
Here, a kidney is worth around one or two thousand dollars, while in the United States it costs about 40 thousand dollars. The price paid to the “organ sellers” after surgery is almost always much lower than agreed upon. The buyer pays around 50 thousand dollars for the entire “operation”: the wheeler-dealer, the hotel, hospitalization, and surgery.
Some of the merchants of “living human material” even feel as benefactors: “You have a new kidney, the donor is happy because s/he needs money”. Happy to renounce a piece of themselves to survive, to be able to pay their children’s food, medicines for sick family members, the rent, in a country where there is truly little to make one happy.
Those are stories about poverty. Stories about human misery. Stories about the lives of people who do not know what it means to live. At the Cinema Festival 2010, the director Roberto Orazi presented the documentary film-investigation “H.O.T. – Human Organ Traffic”. Among the protagonists, there was Deepak, a young Nepali who told the story of his decision to sell a kidney in order to buy a piece of land where to cultivate rice and lentils, to feed his family.
Emancipation from poverty by donating organs is, however, deceptive. From a research published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” in 2002, it comes out that those who sold a kidney to improve their economic conditions, actually deteriorated them. After six years, they fall back into poverty, sometimes even more serious than before. Left alone health problems: constant pains, renal failure and hypertension, depression, social isolation, work disability and unemployment.
In Nepal, organ donation is illegal, except for cases of consanguinity. But is easy to pass oneself off as someone’s relative. False documents are not a problem. “Surgeons know that everything is fake, but they pretend to believe it. Sometimes the doctors themselves ask what to write in the certificates. If some of them put more question, it is just to ask an illegal surcharge besides the clinic’s parcel” told to Alessandro Gilioli, a journalist for L’Espresso, an intermediary from Kathmandu, Krishna Kanki.
Besides voluntary sellers, there is also human trafficking. A criminal “market” which, according to the United Nations Rights Watch, produces a profit of almost 32billion dollars a year.
In 2014 alone, in Nepal disappeared more than 5 thousand women, according to experts, because of illegal organ trade, for exploitation of prostitution or enslavement. A phenomenon growing at an alarming rate. Kamala Bhatta, representative of the women’s Union of the Police Office in Nepal, reports that the majority of missing women are under 40. “Only 30 percent of the families make a complaint”. Often, the families themselves sell the young women to criminal organizations out of poverty.
Women’s life is worth much less than that of men in many Asian countries. In some of them it is worth nothing. In Nepal, for instance, widows are the most fruitful biological reserve for the speculators.
Rupa Rai, a Catholic activist, collaborator of Caritas Nepal, has repeatedly urged the local government to adopt new policies so as to ensure a strict punishment against traffickers and to implement programs for crime prevention”.
Disappear also the immigrant who are first doped, then have their organs explanted without consent. Along with the voluntary sale, for example, of migrants who flee from the third world toward the Italian cost. Traffickers from Eritrea and Libya, along with Nigerian and Somalian brokers manage the business of stocking human beings on the mainland.
Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Philippines as well as Brazil, and Moldova in Europe, are the leading states in the black ”chart”. Whereas the countries which provide the largest numbers of requests are Israel, Japan, South Africa and the United States. A slap in the face of those who believe that living in a rich country means being civilized. The most needed “goods” are kidneys, eyes, liver, hearts, lungs. But together with the visible organs is explanted also the “invisible” and most precious one: the soul. Even if the body survives an intervention, the spirit dies. The person’s humanity is maimed in the first place.
Although prohibited by international treaties, human organ trade for transplantation is allowed, in practice, in many countries. In Iran it is legal. Singapore is the first State to have legalized voluntary sale of organs. Kidneys are the most frequently sold organs throughout the world. On the black market it produces a profit of one billion dollars a year. According to the World Health Organization, every year are performed approximately 66 thousand kidney transplants, 21 thousand liver transplants, and 6 thousand heart transplants. It is estimated that in about 10 percent of the cases, donations are illegal.
A Recommendation of the Council of Europe of last July will have to be implemented by the Member States in order to criminalize organ trafficking.