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Transpl Int. 2007 Nov;20(11):934-9. Epub 2007 Jul 20.

A socioeconomic survey of kidney vendors in Pakistan.

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Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, Civil Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan.


In recent years, Pakistan has emerged as one of the largest centres for commerce and tourism in renal transplantation. Kidney vendors belong to Punjab in eastern Pakistan, the agricultural heartland, where 34% people live below poverty line. We report results of a socioeconomic and health survey of 239 kidney vendors. The mean age was 33.6 +/- 7.2 years (M:F 3.5:1). Mean nephrectomy period was 4.8 +/- 2.3 years. Ninety per cent of the vendors were illiterate. Sixty-nine per cent were bonded labourers who were virtual slaves to landlords, labourers 12%, housewives 8.5% and unemployed 11%. Monthly income was $US15.4 +/- 8.9 with 2-11 dependents per family. Majority (93%), vended for debt repayment with mean debt of $1311.4 +/- 819. The mean agreed sale price was $1737 +/- 262. However, they received $1377 +/- 196 after deduction for hospital and travel expenses. Postvending 88% had no economic improvement in their lives and 98% reported deterioration in general health status. Future vending was encouraged by 35% to pay off debts and freedom from bondage. This study gives a snapshot of kidney vendors from Pakistan. These impoverished people, many in bondage, are examples of modern day slavery. They will remain exploited until law against bondage is implemented and new laws are introduced to ban commerce and transplant tourism in Pakistan.

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