Kidneys for transplant being sold in North Cot town

MLANG, North Cotabato (MindaNews/4 March) – Poor residents in one of the villages here have been selling one of their kidneys for P200,000 to foreigners needing transplants, triggering an alarm among health officials here.

The recipients, said Dr. Glecerio Sotea Jr., the municipal health officer, are mostly Israelis and Arabs who undergo the kidney transplant operation at the Davao Doctors Hospital, a medical institution known for its transplant operations.

The reported selling of kidneys at Barangay Bagontapay here moved health officials to conduct investigations, and eventually confirmed the reports.

Sotea said that 10 residents of Bagontapay have already sold their kidneys. Eight of them were identified as couple Emmanuel and Mary Jane Lemoran, Leticia de Jose, Renely Juanitas, Vilma Maghari-Ortobis, Pane Dasal, Roy Cristobal and Gingging Tabake, residents of purok Maabi-abihon and Mainuswagon.

Sotea said the practice of selling kidneys is appealing to the poor in the area because of the huge amount involved and could thus ease a family’s financial burden. The buyers, he said, are also desperately in need of the kidneys because it means saving their lives.

One of the donors, Letecia de Jose, told MindaNews she sold one of her kidneys because the P200,000 is a big help for her family. “Can the government give that amount to us poor people?” she said.

She stressed she did it due to severe poverty in her village, adding that no agent profited from the sale.

De Jose, a farmer’s wife with nine children, said she was happy with her decision because aside from helping her family, it was an act of saving the life of her dying Israeli recipient who suffered from renal failure.

Some 30 more villagers are reportedly waiting to sell their kidneys.

Sotea, in his investigation, reported that the process of donation and the kidney transplant itself are legally done, even performed in a hospital accredited to perform kidney transplants. He said he got the information on the legality of the process through Dr. Jose Emmanuel del Fierro, a urologist at the DDH, who is reportedly willing to testify about the issue and present the necessary documents should the need arise.

Some of the kidney donors visited by MindaNews vouched they have felt no ill effects to their health at all, at least at this time.

But Sotea warned that a donor’s life may be threatened should the one remaining kidney fail later.

But Ana Geronimo, the village’s committee chair on health, said they do not have control over their constituents if they want to sell their organs.

“What we are doing is appealing them not to do this. But if it’s their will, we can do nothing about it,” she said. (Williamor A. Magbanua / MindaNews)