April 18, 2024

Study Reveals Poverty as the Main Driver Behind Kidney Sales

A recent systematic review spanning over 35 years of global medical literature has shed light on the various factors driving individuals to sell their kidneys. The study, conducted by Bijaya Shrestha from the Center for Research on Education, Health and Social Science in Kathmandu, Nepal, exposes a range of motivations behind kidney selling and underscores the insufficient efforts to address this issue effectively. Published in the open access journal PLOS Global Public Health, the research also points to the dearth of evidence regarding the impact of policy and biotechnology in this domain.

The global demand for kidney donations has outstripped the available supply, resulting in kidneys becoming one of the most sought-after human organs for sale. The illegal organ trade preys on vulnerable individuals, exposing them to various medical, social, psychological, and legal risks. In a bid to unravel the underlying reasons prompting individuals to sell their kidneys, Bijaya Shrestha and the research team carried out a comprehensive analysis of relevant medical literature worldwide.

While poverty emerged as the predominant driver, other contributing factors included lack of information, indebtedness, aspirations of acquiring material possessions like motorbikes and smartphones, land purchases, pursuit of financial independence, and altruistic motives. Societal influences were also significant, with familial and social norms playing a pivotal role. Instances of individuals succumbing to societal pressures to meet family expectations were noted, particularly concerning financial obligations such as dowries. Gender-specific patterns were observed, with men resorting to kidney sales to fund such expenses, while women opted for organ selling due to the strenuous physical demands placed on men in their communities.

Notably, regional disparities were evident, with poverty standing out as the primary impetus among individuals hailing from the Indian Subcontinent. In countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, India, and the Philippines, middlemen or brokers occupied a prominent position in facilitating connections between potential kidney sellers and buyers. Some studies conducted in India and the Philippines revealed how urban centers with advanced medical infrastructure inadvertently facilitated the kidney trade by serving as hubs for donor-recipient transactions.

The authors of the study also draw attention to the inadequacies of existing policies in addressing the multifaceted challenges associated with kidney selling and cross-border organ trafficking.

In light of the findings, the researchers emphasize that while economic factors may seem to drive kidney sales predominantly, there exists a complex interplay of motivations prompting individuals to engage in this practice. The paper offers an in-depth exploration of the diverse dimensions of kidney selling, urging for a more comprehensive approach to tackling this pressing issue.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it