Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-inside-nepal’s-‘kidney-valley’-where-someone-from-nearly-every-household-has-sold-an-organ-to-black-market-dealers-who-tell-them-‘they-will-grow-back’Alert – Inside Nepal’s ‘kidney valley’ where someone from nearly every household has sold an organ to black market dealers who tell them ‘they will grow back’

Poverty-stricken workers in Nepal are being duped into selling their kidneys, with scammers convincing some to part with their organs by claiming they will grow back.

Kavre District in the foothills of the Himalayas has become known as kidney valley, a disturbing reputation it has gained because someone from nearly every household has sold an organ.

Desperate for money, many are being sucked in by ‘cash for kidney’ rackets, with black market networks buying their organs for small sums and then trafficking them.

High numbers of young men are returning from working abroad with kidney failure, driving a major health crisis in a country where around 20 per cent of the population live in poverty.

Many have died after selling their organs, while others have been left unable to work and needing transplants themselves – with victims now warning others struggling for money not to buy in to the dangerous and illegal procedures.

Two Nepali men reveal their scars after selling their kidneys. They told Sky News they were driven by financial need

Two Nepali men reveal their scars after selling their kidneys. They told Sky News they were driven by financial need

In Hokse, a rural hilltop village 12 miles east of Kathmandu, locals have been targeted by so-called 'organ brokers' for years. Pictured: Workers in 2015

In Hokse, a rural hilltop village 12 miles east of Kathmandu, locals have been targeted by so-called ‘organ brokers’ for years. Pictured: Workers in 2015

One local called Suman, 31, told Sky News that he felt he had ‘no option’ but to travel to India and sell his kidney for just £3,000 as he faced financial ruin.

‘I felt weak and I lost consciousness,’ he says. ‘When I woke up, it was really hurting. Now I can’t work and I try to tell anyone I can, not to sell their kidney.’

Another man who sold his kidney in India, where donors must be related to patients,  told how ‘agents’ who helped him to sell his kidney made fake documents for him and ID cards to convince authorities.

‘My kidney was given to a fake sister,’ he said. ‘I think the doctor in India knew I’d sold it.’

A huge gap in supply and demand globally has opened up a black market for organs, which sees vulnerable people exploited by criminal networks.

One in 10 transplanted organs is estimated to have been trafficked, with doctors and hospitals among those involved in some cases.

In 2007, the Nepalese government passed a law banning the sale of kidneys, but that has not stopped poor people in the country opting for it as a last resort.

In Hokse, a rural hilltop village 12 miles east of Kathmandu, locals have been targeted by so-called ‘organ brokers’ for years.

Smooth-talking salesmen have persuaded villages to sell their body parts for small sums, with one mother telling previously that she had sold hers for £1,300.

The victims are left with scars from the surgeries, which are illegal and are often organised by 'agents'

The victims are left with scars from the surgeries, which are illegal and are often organised by ‘agents’

Desperate for money, many are being sucked in by 'cash for kidney' rackets, with black market networks buying their organs for small sums. Pictured: Victims in Hokse in 2015

Desperate for money, many are being sucked in by ‘cash for kidney’ rackets, with black market networks buying their organs for small sums. Pictured: Victims in Hokse in 2015 

There are believed to have been dozens of victims in recent months, including a 19-year-old who was among the migrant workers to leave his home and come back without a kidney in 2022.

At least 150 people sold their kidneys from a single village in the Kavre District, but only three cases were officially reported, Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission told PBS last year.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and is frequently hit by natural disasters, with an earthquake last November leaving a wake of destruction, damaging tens of thousands of homes.

High poverty levels have seen an increasing number of people driven overseas to countries like Malaysia and the Gulf States to earn money and send it back home.

Many are forced to work on building sites in brutal conditions, with extreme heat in places like Saudi Arabia and lack of water causing many to return to Nepal with kidney problems.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and is frequently hit by natural disasters, with an earthquake last November leaving a wake of destruction

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and is frequently hit by natural disasters, with an earthquake last November leaving a wake of destruction

Dr Pukar Shresth, a surgeon at the Human Organ Transplant Center in Nepal, noticed a pattern of young and previously healthy men coming back with ‘completely failed kidneys’.

He previously only performed transplants on elderly patients, but said that the situation has now become ‘very grave because about one third of all transplants are these labour migrant workers who have come from abroad.’

With body part sellers preying on the naivety of their victims and many seeing no option but to work long hours in dangerously high heat, doctors have called for more education. 

Many in Hokse insist they no longer sell their kidneys, but the village remains scarred by the years of exploitation, with the physical scars still visible on the many who have sold their vital organs.