Kidneys, liver… At the bottom of Cairo’s society, those refugees who are eager to go to Europe are the main victims of the underground organ trading market, and the authorities can do nothing about it.
In a simply decorated apartment on the outskirts of Cairo, Vaippo reluctantly told his story. The nightmare began 7 years ago, when he was from Sudan as a civil servant in the investment department in the capital Khartoum. In his office, he found many corruption cases day after day. After becoming a tainted witness, Vaipo was imprisoned, where an acquaintance offered him such a deal: if he agreed to leave with 3 Sudanese women, he could get a forged identity document and Fly to Egypt. He just pretends that the 3 women are his wives. “I have no choice,” Vaippo explained. He accepted the offer, and a few weeks later, he arrived in Cairo. Free, but no identity. When he first arrived in Egypt, he often felt abdominal pain due to the erosion of anxiety and fear, and asked the snake head to send him to the hospital. “After checking again and again, the doctor explained something that I didn’t understand at all. In the end, they chose to perform the operation on me.” A few days later, he was thrown into a dilapidated apartment, and he has been living almost since then. A life of exile. In the slums of Cairo, his compatriots told him an unbelievable fact: “Everyone in the neighborhood knows what happened during the operation except me… They took one of my kidneys.” X-ray examination Confirmed the news.
260,000 refugees and millions of immigrants poured into Egypt.
This problem has existed for many years. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, Egypt is one of the most severely affected countries in the world by the sale of organs, second only to China, the Philippines and India. However, the “Express” investigation has strongly exposed this illegal act. Egypt has attracted immigrants from the border areas of the Maghreb, the Middle East, the Gulf and Sub-Saharan Africa. They are either alone or with their families, fleeing war and suffering, or because of their love for a better life. Yearning to be here. Since the closure of the Balkan route, Egypt, Libya and Morocco have also become popular starting points for those who want to go to Europe. According to statistics from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, there are approximately 260,000 refugees and millions of immigrants stranded here. Many of them are from Sudan, Eritrea or Ethiopia, and some, like Ethiopians and Eritreans, do not or rarely speak Arabic. Under the deportation of the government, they have difficulty getting protection from the police and have become victims of extortion, ethnic violence, theft, and even rape. Many of them are ready to cross the Mediterranean and reach the “Eldorado” in Europe. For this, all methods are appropriate, even those very radical ideas. This is why thousands of people agree to sell their organs to the staff of improper intermediary medical clinics every year, and those institutions find suitable donors for patients waiting for organ transplants.
Sameh is a 37-year-old Sudanese who arrived in Cairo in June 2015 to escape the war in Darfur. In a coffee shop frequented by Sudanese compatriots, a stranger came up to talk with him. “This man claimed that he was cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees,” Sameh recalled. “He introduced me to a kidney selling business worth $10,000… It’s really a lot of money. I was hesitant. Then, I agreed to the deal. The operation went smoothly, but after the operation, I only received $2,000 and was allowed to stay in an apartment for a month of recovery.” This week, he insisted on asking for the remaining part of the promised amount, but a man who claimed to be a lawyer successfully persuaded him. He told Sameh that if he continued to ask, he would be sentenced to prison…
Other stories are similar, but more terrifying. Many “sellers” claimed that they were removed and part of the kidney or liver tissue was stolen. This was Vaip’s nightmare, and it was also a nightmare that Nazkh could barely escape. The 32-year-old Eritrean refugee successfully escaped from the dictatorship of Asmara in 2011 with his wife and four children. At first, they took refuge in a refugee camp in Sudan. Later, they relied on a snakehead to travel to Cairo and regarded it as a step on the way to the Mediterranean. After exhaustion, Nazh and his family abandoned their plan and settled in Cairo. However, a few months after their arrival, Nazkh fell into the trap of his past snakehead, and the brutal man was angry because he failed to receive the smuggled money. “I was imprisoned in an apartment, where I heard some strangers discuss the best way to harvest my kidneys.” Nazkh recounted, “They hope to get a commission for the introduction of kidney sales. In the end, I Successfully escaped…”
Accomplices: Public medical institutions were involved in organ trafficking.
To extract their hearts, some refugees were even murdered. These stories are unproven, especially after President Abdul-Fattah Sisi promulgated a new law on May 24 last year, forcing most foreign NGOs to close their offices in Egypt.
”Express” interviews with representatives of the immigrant community revealed that organ sales and sales organisers mainly work in Cairo. This is where the demand for organs is greatest. Hospitals are efficient and generous. The wealthy patients who usually come from the Gulf region are always ready to pay huge sums of money for a healthy organ. At the same time, this is also the place with the largest supply of organs. Immigrants and refugees usually have to wait several years to obtain the result of their asylum or immigration application. At the same time, the poor Egyptians at the bottom of society are also a major source of organs. North Sinai has also been a hotbed of human trafficking, but since the end of 2013, the situation has become less serious because the area has become a standoff between the jihadists and the Egyptian army. Some other places are sometimes called high-incidence areas of organ trafficking, especially in the British media. But most of them are isolated from the world and far from the hospital. For example, the delta of southwest Egypt on the immigration route (located in the mountainous desert area of Sudan and Libya, near Chad), or the first stop of Libya on the well-known desert road, the Kufra Oasis.
Intermediaries, clinics, surgeons: This market is profitable. According to a survey conducted by the United States-Egypt Professional Association-Cofs (Organ Failure Treatment Program Alliance, whose investigators have now been expelled from Cairo), the first step is to pay 7,000 euros to hospitals or clinics involved in organ sales. Looking for a new kidney. After that, after taking half of the amount, the medical institution transfers the remaining part to an intermediary medical office to be responsible for this matter. This intermediary medical office will deduct about 1,000 euros in commission to determine a suitable match based on a professional intermediary network Organs supply people. The remaining 2500 euros are shared by the middleman and the unfortunate “seller”. Usually, the meager money obtained is not enough to enable the latter to lead a good life. In addition, people with only one kidney often find it difficult to undertake tasks that are physically demanding. Over time, in a country where 40% of the population lives on less than US$2 a day, a market for human organ trafficking has gradually developed.
In principle, according to Egyptian law, the sale of organs is prohibited: only unpaid donations are allowed. But as long as the organ buyers and sellers simply declare that their actions are in good faith, it is enough to establish the required documents in the committee responsible for organ transplantation in the Ministry of Health. Usually, when the situation is too suspicious, the hospital or clinic will choose to “forget” to declare, “This is an open secret.” The pioneers of kidney transplants in Egypt and the surgeons at Mansoura University, 120 kilometers from the capital, are known for their unreproachable professional ethics. Several of them said anonymously: “Most of the organs used in transplant operations in China are illegal. Sales.” One of the experts, Muhammad Gunem, once appeared on Egyptian TV shows to condemn the seriousness of the problem.
Sudanese, Ethiopians and Eritreans are the main refugees.
For them, society and religion can explain the phenomenon of buying and selling organs. In most countries, organs are obtained from brain-dead patients with the consent of their families. However, in Egypt, brain death is not considered a real death, and most family members refuse the hospital to extract organs from the dead. In 2007, spurred by investigations by some Egyptian and international organizations, related personnel were arrested and the illegal hospital was closed. But a Cofs representative said that these institutions reopened only a few months later. In 2010, the Parliament passed a law prohibiting the sale of human beings, but according to our news, many doctors opposed the criminalization of the sale of organs. They believe that if the buyer and the seller reach an agreement, the judicial department should not interfere. When the “Express” asked about this matter, the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health did not make any comments.
In the past six months, the police launched a series of raids. According to the Egyptian authorities, these operations destroyed the organ trading network. The arrested doctor claimed to be innocent. At the same time, in Cairo, it is still common to find kidneys through the mediation of an intermediary medical office, without worrying about insufficient sources.