PBS reports that an estimated 35,000 Nepalis are trafficked every year, dozens of whom are victims of organ trafficking, forced to donate their kidneys or have their organs stolen outright. One district in Nepal has been dubbed ‘Kidney Valley’ for the frequency with which this trafficking occurs. According to locals, in one village, almost every man living there has only one kidney.
Traffickers are also targeting orphans in the streets.
The cost of poverty
Half of Nepal lives in poverty which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nineteen-year-old Santosh who has to support four sisters and his mother sought a job in India. His recruiters told him he needed to first take a blood test in Kolkata.
There was no job for Santosh.
In Kolkata, he was drugged and one of his kidneys was removed. He was given $4500 and sent back to Nepal. Santosh is devastated. He told PBS he suffers from fainting and finds it difficult to stand for too long.
“They must be punished for this.”
A deadly hospital
Unfortunately, according to Nepal’s national human rights commissioner, Murari Kharel, Nepalese and Indian authorities are one step behind traffickers – even though there’s a very obvious lead in these cases.
In particular, one hospital. Nepal investigative officials told the “NewsHour” each new victim led them to the same hospital, Rabindranath Tagore International Institute for Cardiac Sciences in Kolkata.
It’s been in the headlines for illegal kidney transplants in the past, but has never been prosecuted by Indian authorities.
This particular hospital has also been named in several organ trafficking cases involving persons from rural Assam, India. Hospital authorities have denied allegations and claimed to be one of India’s “most ethical” healthcare providers.
Dr. Sanjay Nagral, Co-Chair of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group which combats organ trafficking is not convinced.
”When a single hospital is being repeatedly in the news, clearly, there seems to be a problem… There’s a lot of money riding on it, individuals who need kidneys, who — some of them moneyed. A lot of transplantation in South Asia, including India, is done in the private sector. And it is the huge money involved.”
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Organ trafficking must be stopped.
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