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Iran’s kidney trade spirals out of control

“These patients enter the country with false documents; doctors do not examine their documents and are paid millions to carry out a kidney transplant for them”, Quasemi said.

Quasemi referred to the case of two Saudi men who recently travelled to Iran and bribed doctors and patients for transplants. One of the Saudi men died, and an ensuing investigation led to the arrest of medical staff and group of people smugglers.

The government has hit back, accusing the CASKP of negligence. Ministry of Health representative Katayoon Najafizadeh said that the CASKP is responsible for issuing permits for all non-familial transplant arrangements. They have failed to ensure fake permits aren’t produced and accepted. “The Charity Association for the Support of Kidney Patients is responsible for this situation and must be held accountable”, he said.

Iran is the only nation in which the buying and selling of kidneys is legal. The market is regulated by two organisations – the CASKP, an NGO,  and the Ministry of Health’s Charity Foundation for Special Diseases. More than 2,300 kidney transplants are carried out in the country each year.