Poverty-stricken Indians are trying to sell their organs on Facebook while scammers cash in on misery.
One morning in February 2020, a couple of months after she had an accident and was unable to work, Surya decided to sell one of her kidneys.
The mother of two girls – already reeling under loans of 500,000 Indian rupees ($6,101) – had been the sole breadwinner since her husband lost his job.
Although she knew the sale of kidneys is illegal in India, she went online on her smartphone and typed in “kidney” and “sell”, and dozens of pages opened up. On a Facebook page Surya found, she put down her number and posted that she needed to sell one of her kidneys.
Days later, she received a call from a man who identified himself as Dr Sandy. He told her the Gitroh Medical Center in Ghaziabad, near the capital New Delhi, was interested in buying her kidney for 10 million rupees ($122,000). It was enough for Surya to repay her debts many times over and pay her family’s expenses for years.
All she had to do was fill out a form and pay 8,000 rupees ($97.6) for a donor card, which would give her access to the sale process.
Just before paying, Surya found the number of the MOHAN Foundation (Multi Organ Harvesting Aid Network), a non-profit that promotes organ donations and issues donor cards for those who wish to donate organs after they die.
“There is no payment for the donor card,” the foundation’s helpline operator told her. “I think you’ve [nearly] been the victim of a scam.”