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Syria refugees in Turkey resort to selling organs to survive

Syrian refugees at a camp in Turkey [Anadolu Agency]
Syrian refugees at a camp in Turkey [Anadolu Agency]

Syrian refugees residing in Turkey have been discovered to be so desperate for money that they are selling their organs on the black market in order to pay for necessities such as rent, the US-based media channel CBS has revealed.

In a documentary aired by CBS, the channel used hidden cameras in an investigation into Facebook posts offering money to Syrian refugees in exchange for their kidneys and livers, with many being cheated, earning less than the organs are worth on the illegal black market.

The investigation found that one refugee named Abu Abdullah, who fled the ongoing civil war in his country four years ago and now earns a meagre $300 per month as a metal worker, made a deal with an organ broker to sell one of his kidneys for $10,000.

Following the procedure, however, the broker only paid him half the agreed amount and then disappeared, leaving Abu Abdullah with no medical care and in ongoing pain.

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In Turkey, as in many countries, it is illegal to buy and sell organs on the black market and police have reportedly said that they are clamping down on the practice which has proven popular as a result of the refugee crisis. Donors must usually prove that they are close family members of the recipient in order for hospitals to approve the donor. However, forged documents can be purchased for $200.

Another case cited in the documentary is that of Umm Mohammed, a single mother of three who sold half of her liver for $4,000. “I made enough to pay the year’s rent I owed, and another year in advance,” she told CBS

Though the trade is illegal, it comes as no surprise to many due to the economic hardships that the refugees often face after they flee from their country’s conflict, with their struggle continuing even after reaching safety.

According to Syrian-American businessman, Yakzan Shishakly: “They have no options. So they’re thinking, if we die it’s fine. At least I’ll get some money to give to my family.”

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