Sell or buy kidneys on Facebook

PETALING JAYA: More desperate people are turning to interactive social platforms either to sell or buy kidneys.

Checks by theSun in an open Facebook page showed kidney sellers, using aliases, providing their handphone numbers and blood type.

An individual even wanted to "urgently" sell his kidney at RM6,000 for his studies.

A donor said he was willing to part with his kidney and informed the group members to contact him via WhatsApp.

A source in the page, claiming to work at a hair salon, said a kidney transplant would cost RM150,000.

The procedure includes a blood test conducted first by a doctor to determine if it is clean from infections.

"Otherwise, it would be difficult for the doctor to operate," he said, adding the cash transaction and agreement process will be done through a lawyer.

A 75% deposit payment is made through a (wire) transfer and the balance is to be settled one hour before the operation, he said.

"Cash is not encouraged," he added, declining to elaborate further.

The donor, he added, is given a choice either to proceed with the operation in a private medical health facility or a government hospital.

He also confirmed the amount mentioned included post-operation recuperation in the hospital.

When contacted, the National Transplant Resource Centre said it views the situation as serious because there have been no reports of kidneys sold in Malaysia thus far.

Its chief clinical manager, Datin Dr Fadhillah Zowyah Leila Yasmin Mason, said, "Our Facebook and email do sometimes get queries, usually from foreigners, some residing in Malaysia, others from overseas, about selling their organs.

"We also have had occasional calls from locals inquiring about that. But, we have been very firm about it being totally a no-no, and that it is wrong by international law and ethics, even religious edicts (fatwa), for people to buy and sell organs.

"It devalues (a) human's worth and can lead to exploitation and crime," she said.

She explained that an independent donor panel comprising a doctor, psychiatrist and social worker will first interview a donor and the family.

This is to determine the person understands the medical risk involved and is of sound mind.

Once this is completed, the donor will sign an affidavit which states that there is no commercial element involved between the donor and recipient.

Finally, the Health Ministry's director-general will decide if the transplant can be done.

"Currently, organ donation in Malaysia is meant for family members only.

"If there's a commercial element, the recipient will need to pay for the immune suppressive medicine, particularly for those who travel overseas," she added.

The Facebook link has been directed to the ministry for review.

The National Kidney Foundation has also received numerous emails from countries such as Bangladesh with individuals wanting to sell their kidney.

The reply to such queries will be emailed as follows: "Organ trade is illegal in Malaysia. The National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia does not buy nor sell kidneys. Kindly log on to the National Transplant Resource Centre, http://www/agiftoflife.gov.my/eng/index.html for details."