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Thoughts of the impoverished: Shall I sell a kidney?


The going rate for a kidney nowadays in Egypt is about EGP 40,000, which rounds up to about $6500.

This is a fortune. I make about EGP 300 a month. I have a wife, three kids and my mother—God bless her—to take care of.

In Egypt, we are not offered medical or social insurance or unemployment benefits. And the new government is increasing taxes, again. Yesterday I went to buy one of these mobile cards I need for work, and it cost three pounds extra.

Three pounds that count for the next two days breakfast for my family, gone.

All my children go to school. Their mother and I insisted on giving them an education, a better chance at life. My mother told me I should get my oldest boy to work, that it’s enough that he now reads and writes. But I couldn’t. I want him to go to college, become a doctor. My wife refused as well. She told me she will provide for education. She started to sell vegetables down the street. She makes enough to cover the school expenses, but barely.

The last two years after the revolution have been very hard. I used to get EGP 600 a month, but the factory laid off half of us and gave the rest of us the choice of either cutting our salaries in half or leaving. I am 35 years old, where would I go?

I was in Tahrir Square when Mubarak stepped down. We couldn’t believe it. We were free, finally. All these young boys and girls who died… it was not in vain. I had such hope; my children will have a better future than their parents. If I knew what would happen, I’d have stayed home.

Two years of nothing but talk, politicians blabbing on the TV and radio all the time. Promises, threats and warnings, but no one to tell us what to do.

Before the presidential elections, the sheikh of our village told us to vote for Morsy, for he was backed by God. That if we elected him, we would be choosing Islam and all our dreams would come true. I voted for him thinking he was a God-fearing man. We were promised better lives by the Ikhwan and the Salafi sheikh on TV said we would be too rich to count for we would have chosen religion.


I see ElBaradei and Sabahy on TV talking and preaching, but they do not get it. They do not know me or the likes of me. They do not know poverty.


My cousin who works at a medical lab told me that lots of men sell their kidneys. He mediates between them. He told me to bring a blanket with me because it depends on the buyers of the kidney; some of them are kind, others just want the kidney and I will have to take care of myself after the operation.

I went yesterday and met the family. They are wealthy. Their son will die unless he gets a kidney. His mother asked me why I had a blanket with me and I told her. She cried. I watched her, amazed. The father took her aside and then told me they have booked me a room for recovery. He told me he was sorry, but if there was any other way, they would have tried it, but Egypt does not allow organ transplant and none of his relatives were a match.

I looked at the wealthy family. They have all I want, yet they can’t help their son. All I could think of that this country is screwing its people regardless.

I agreed. They can take the kidney and I will get the money. A simple transaction.

I did not tell my wife. She would die. I told her the factory is sending us to Libya to get materials for two weeks.

I lie in the hospital bed. It is very clean. My cousin calls me to check on me, tells me the people are revolting again on the anniversary of 25 January. I feel a twinge of hope, but I quell it. I tell him “nothing will change” and hang up, but as the anesthesia starts to kick in, I have the weirdest dream. I see my family, my friends and all the poor people in my village on the streets, tearing down every building in their path, killing anyone who dares stops them.

I smile and remind myself “it’s only a kidney.”

*The article is not a literal depiction of a man who sold his kidney. It’s based on talks with different people. The facts remain that Egypt does not allow organ transplant leading to a thriving “organ-selling business” and yes a kidney before the most recent dollar hike was estimated at EGP 40,000.







About the author

Sara Abou Bakr

Politics editor at Daily News Egypt Twitter: @sara_ab5

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