Residents of a town in Taliban-controlled Afghanisan have sold one of their kidneys due to poverty and desperation, giving the community the moniker "One Kidney Village."

The situation is so bad that the people of the Herat town in northwestern Afghanistan are selling off their organs just to buy food, pay debts, and even prevent the sale of a child.

Brokers act as middlemen to match wealthy people with health problems, sometimes from abroad, with healthy but poor locals who are in desperate need of cash.

Once a match is made, the organs are sold for as little as between US$1,500 (131,000 Afghanis) and US$2,500 (218,000 Afghanis), but for the seller, the proceeds run out quickly after it is used to pay off debts and buy food supplies.

The vicious cycle then repeats with the kidney seller often falling back into hardship soon afterwards as he/she becomes too weak to work as a result of the surgery.

The surgeries are mainly conducted in two hospitals in town with the consent of the donors, but the practice is largely unregulated. For example, the hospital does not bother how the organ recipient gets a donor to agree to the procedure.

Certain families are left with the bleak choice of selling their kidneys or have their children out on the streets begging, or worse still, sell off their children.

In recent months, reports have also surface of parents offering their very young daughters into marriage or childless couples for money, because they can no longer afford to feed the girls.

The situation is the war-torn country has been bad the last few years, but has further worsened after the Taliban takeover seven months ago.

More than 24 million people - 59 percent of the population, are at risk of famine, and half a million Afghans have lost their jobs.

Source: New York Times,
Photo source: AFP