Mekong Delta: Poor selling kidneys to pay off debt

VietNamNet Bridge – In the last two years, many poor people in the Mekong Delta City of Can Tho have sold their kidneys. They typically receive VND100-150 million ($5,000-7,000) for the organ.

kidneys, kidney donation, organ donation

Mr. Ho Van Tranh with the incision to take his kidney.

According to the authorities of Thanh Phu Commune, Co Do District, Can Tho City, in the past two years they have received dozens of applications from local people for kidney donations. The applicants are generally poor and have large debts.

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, a local official, says these people asked for the local government’s confirmation for kidney donation but in fact they sold their kidneys to strangers to have money to pay debt. In many cases, the local government only learned about the kidney donations after they had already been conducted.

After the Lunar New Year, Mr. Le Van Gion, a farmer in Hamlet 6 of Thanh Phu Commune, submitted his kidney donation application to the commune authorities. In the application, Gion said he would go to Hanoi to donate his kidney to a relative.

“We did not confirm this petition, as well as other similar ones on kidney donation. But then Gion left home and he has not returned yet," Hoa says.

According to Gion’s family, they do not know where he is and what he is doing because he has not contacted them since he left home. Previously, Gion used to leave home for a long time to do business.

"He left home because of the Lunar New Year. He had a conflct with someone in the commune. These people threatened to beat him,” Gion’s father explains.

In Hamlet 6, Mr. Ho Van Tranh, 43, donated a kidney for VND120 million ($6,000). Tranh says because of a debt he owes, he donated his kidney for money three months ago.

"The one who received my kidney is a man named Nguyen Quoc Loi, from HCM City, but I do not know his address. Loi helped me get a job when I was in HCM to avoid my creditors. He said both of his kidneys had failed and he was seeking a kidney donor. I took blood tests and our bloods are of the same type, so I gave him my kidney and he gave me some money,” Tranh says.

Tranh says he has not kept contact with Loi so he does not know Loi’s situation now. When he was in hospital after the surgery, some strangers told him to seek kidney sellers in his hometown to earn a commission.

Police begin investigation

On the day Tranh came home with the money from his sold kidney, his mother cried.

"If I had known about this, I would have stopped him from selling his kidney. He is very weak now. He cannot do anything arduous and his limbs keep trembling all the time," she says.

Says Tranh, "If I could do it again, I would not have donated my kidney. I would not encourage anyone to sell his kidney," Tranh says. He life now depends mainly on his wife.

Two years ago, Mr. Danh Lang, also in Hamlet 6, sold his kidney through a middleman for a price of VND150 million ($7,500).

"I paid the middleman VND5 million ($250). He took care of all the formalities. I only had to follow him to the hospital,” Danh Lang says.

Since that day, Danh Lang’s health has deteriorated day by day. He spent all the money earned from his kidney and is now at risk of debt again because he needs money to treat his diseases.

Not only Hamlet 6, but other hamlets of Thanh Phu Commune have many people selling their kidneys, but they have not let the local authorities know.

Responding to this apparent trend, the police of Co Do District launched an investigation on April 8 to determine whether there is a criminal ring luring local people into selling their kidneys.

In a recent report to the Director of Can Tho City Police, Co Do District Police claimed to have identified at least eight locals who had sold their kidney. Each had received VND120 million. In particular, five people in the same family all sold their kidneys. However, all of them had fulfilled the legal formalities for kidney donation.


kidneys, kidney donation, organ donation