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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Thanks to net, buy, sell kidneys online

Snehesh Alex Philip, PTI  New Delhi, February 17, 2008
First Published: 14:01 IST(17/2/2008) | Last Updated: 17:40 IST(17/2/2008)
The kidney racket allegedly run by Dr Amit Kumar might have created sensation across the country but a market of organ trade is thriving online much to the joy of potential donors and buyers.

Social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook are openly being used as a source for procuring kidneys in contravention to the established laws.

A number of communities on these sites are dedicated to people interested in selling and buying kidneys.

From Aslam, a 20-year-old college student to Kulkarni, a software professional, many are logging onto the net to get into the online kidney market.

The popularity of such specialised communities can be gauged from the huge number of members that these communities have attracted.

While Orkut has above 700 members for the 35 odd kidney transplant related communities, Facebook has thousands of members worldwide, many of whom are Indians too.

Orkut said it has reviewed the content as per its policies and those in violation has been effectively removed.

"The communities and profiles, indulging in commercial kidney donation, were reviewed as per our policies and those in violation have been effectively removed," Orkut said in a statement released to PTI.

It is not only the donors who are scouting the net but also prospective recipients and their relatives. Almost every message on these communities have contact details like email addresses to even cell phone numbers.

"My sister suffered from a liver infection and we had to spend nearly Rs. 10 lakh for the treatment, six lakh of which was borrowed money. Now, I have to repay the debt taken and hence want to sell my kidney," Srujan, a driver with an IT firm in Bangalore told PTI about his reason for posting an appeal on Orkut.

He added, "I get paid Rs. 12,000 as my salary. I cannot afford to repay the money. I am willing to sell my kidney for Rs. 6.5 lakhs. The extra money is for my post operative care. Find me someone."

For Kulkarni, yet another prospective donor on Orkut, his love for a child is what is driving him into selling his kidney.
"My wife is unable to conceive despite many years of marriage. We wanted to go in for a a test tube baby but that will cost me over Rs. five lakh. I am unable to afford such a price and hence am willing to sell my kidney," Kulkarni wrote to PTI.

He adds, "I know this is an illegal act but what to do?"

More than half of the prospective donors on Orkut that PTI wrote to, got back in touch instantly. Some were even ready to send their health details so that talks could be carried forward.

Orkut admits that such communities do exist and they are constantly monitoring them for any abuse.

"We take abuse on orkut very seriously as such activities diminish the experience for our users. We are constantly developing new tools to review inappropriate content on the site."

"Commercial kidney donation is illegal in India and communities engaging in such activities are against our terms and community standards," says Vinay Goel, Head of Products, Google India, the parent company of Orkut.

Though, most of the messages put up on such online communities were for monetary reasons, few also said that they were willing to donate their kidney as service to humanity.

"I believe that service to humanity is service to divinity. Help the needy is my motto," says Santosh Kumar who is willing to donate his kidney.

When asked why especially the kidney, he said, "I donate blood regularly once in three months. I wish my dream of donating kidney comes true," adding that he has already got many offers.

The would-be recipients point out that networking sites were the last option that they undertook, and they have been fairly happy with the response.

"I am on dialysis for many years. Only other member in the family is my mother. If she is medically not fit to donate her kidney, I would be left with no option but to seek outside help. I do not mind fulfilling my donor's wish," says Bangaraju from Hyderabad.

He adds, "I have met many people. I tried Orkut and I have received tremendous response. From donors to people with similar problems, a number of them have been writing and calling me up."

Koel Mitra writes on a kidney donor community page, "Hi. I am Koel. I am 18, studying BTech. My mom is 55 and a housewife. She is surviving on dialysis through a temporary channel. Her condition is very critical. I have no one else to take care of me except my mother. I appeal to humanity at large to kindly donate a kidney immediately for her survival. From our side, we will do whatever possible for the donor."

The community members know that they are walking on a thin line because the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 bars the sale of organs for money or any kind of non-monetary help.
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