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March 16, 2006

BehindTheMedspeak: Black–Market Kidney


I read an article this morning in the new issue of VICE magazine that made me sit up and take notice.

I suggest that the reason it's not on the front page of the New York Times is because it's simply too hot to handle.

Or it's fiction.

Long story short: Toby Andrews, an American diagnosed with acute renal failure in 2003, learned that his chances of getting a kidney transplant and freeing himself from dialysis the conventional way — by getting on the UNOS waiting list — were essentially nil, what with the fact he was about 6,000th in line.

So, like approximately 3,500 or so other Americans who annually decide to take an alternative approach, he obtained a transplant on the black market.

The details are fascinating, whether or not you think Andrews did a terrible thing.

Before you unload on him, consider what you might do were you to find yourself in his situation.

Here's the story.

    Black–Market Kidney

    It cost $7,000 to buy the actual kidney, $1,000 to fly round-trip to Cape Town, South Africa, where the operation could be done legally, and $1,200 to fly the Brazilian bricklayer whose kidney is now inside me to Cape Town from São Paulo.

    Oh, and $1,422 all told for my hotel and $732 for his.

    I’m leaving out incidentals like food and cabs.

    So… hold on, let me just pull up my little calculator widget here (have you checked out these widget things? They’re addictive as hell)… crunching these numbers here… so that’s $11,354 to save my life and spare my wife and daughter unbelievable misery.

    Doesn’t seem like a lot to me.

    I suffered acute renal failure in August of 2003.

    I found out that the waiting list for a new kidney was about 3,000 people long.

    Then I found out that the waiting list for a new kidney that matched my blood type was about 6,000 people long.

    Dialysis would have kept me alive — barely — at the cost of being hooked up to a series of machines and tubes for the rest of my life.

    I won’t even go into how much money either of these options was going to set me back.

    So, like 3,500 other Americans this year, I dug around Google and finally came up with a Cape Town surgeon who specializes in transplanting kidneys into wealthy foreigners (he told me that most come from Mauritius).

    At first he was put off that I didn’t have a relative lined up, but after a few more calls he gave me the number of a Brazilian man who runs what they call a "compensated gifting" service.

    It took that guy maybe four minutes to call me back with the name of my donor.


    My doctor here forwarded all my records to the hospital in South Africa, they did a crossmatch test on the Brazilian guy to make sure my body wouldn't shit out his kidney right after the op, and within five days I was on a plane heading down.

    At the hospital they gave me an enema and a sedative then wheeled me up to the window of the OR so I could watch the doc pulling out my new kidney as I went under.

    Now that the American Medicare system has flopped and nobody in Canada can help you out, it’s time to take the Hippocratic oath into our own hands.

    So I went to South Africa, closed my eyes, and waited to be saved.

    When I came to, I dry-heaved so hard that I passed out.

    This, they said, was from coming off the anesthetic while starting the cyclosporine, the antirejection drug.

    When I came back to, however, I felt like I’d woken up back in my body at age 20.

    And all this for the cost of a Geo.


There are already a number of comments on the VICE website; they appear below the article.

Is it true or is it realistic fiction?

I honestly don't know.

I've given anesthesia for removal of donor kidneys from people declared dead as well as for kidney transplants and there is nothing in the descriptions by Andrews — cursory as they are — that conflicts with reality.

Nor are the costs noted out–of–line with might be expected if his story is true.

So let's just say that even if it's not true, it could be.

I think that says it all.

And let me reiterate, though I know it won't lessen the inevitable flaming–to–come, that I don't advocate what Andrews did: I'm simply reporting what he wrote.

One other thing: since I began receiving VICE free a few years ago, I've found it to be consistently surprising, original and absorbing.

How is it possible for a magazine whose main business is clothes to put out a free product that's better than 99% of the magazines on the newstand?

One of the enduring mysteries of the universe and one it would behoove publishers of that 99% to look into before they join the burgeoning ranks of the defunct.

March 16, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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I am a male 23 years old from the philippines, i have a B rh+ blood type. and i want to sell my kidney for a reasonable price. if interested please email me at sinnersaint24@yahoo.com or call me at +639127249727

Posted by: jay | Feb 16, 2010 4:20:28 PM

Respective sir
Hello sir
Good after noon i am interested to donate my one of kidney my bllod group is B+ PLEASE CONTECT TO ME

Posted by: KESIR | Dec 25, 2009 4:26:30 AM

I am female, 21 years old from Pampanga, Philippines (ASIA). I am selling one of my kidneys.


* non-smoker
* non-drinker
* have never used/tried drugs/substance abuse
* healthy lifestyle
* no operations in the past
* no present medical condition
* Blood type AB+


* all procedures/operations should be done here in the Philippines
* all expenses, namely; hospital fees,transportation fees, hotel stay , food and other services will be paid by you.


e-mail me at : kriwil_0112@yahoo.com

ym: kringkring_malonzo

Posted by: kring | Dec 17, 2009 10:47:43 AM

I am 23yrs old and based in Kenya, I need to sale my kidney to further my studies. Email me at sammykayeke@yahoo.com. I have never used any drugs before and I do sports daily. I am O+

Posted by: sammy | Dec 7, 2009 11:53:32 AM


Posted by: sanjiv kr. | Nov 17, 2009 11:23:20 AM

if you need a (b+) kidney contact me. a part of liver 30 years india.

Posted by: sanjiv kr. | Nov 17, 2009 11:22:12 AM

i am 29 of age AB+ willing to give my kidney if some one need mail me sana000960@yahoo.com

Posted by: Sana | Aug 23, 2009 11:00:11 PM

I am a 27 year old male I dont drink do drug and i stoped smoking and i am looking to help someone by selling one of kidney's. I have O+ Blood Type and is very health!! Contact me to work out the detail's BABYBLUEALICE@HOTMAIL.COM

Posted by: Mike | Jul 13, 2009 12:17:19 AM

Universal Donor (Type 0 negative)
For sale: kidney from a 26 yo healthy male.
I`am a universal donor and can donate to someone of any blood type: A, B, AB or O.
Email me if you have a serious offer, Schlemmer1983@gmx.net
I live in Germany!

Posted by: gunnar | Jun 25, 2009 3:58:19 PM

I am willing to donate a kidney,but i will need traveling expenses and wages loss,i am very healthy women,type 0 ,i dont drink or smoke contact me at elizabethclare@live.com

Posted by: elizabethclare | May 24, 2009 11:46:40 PM

I live in Dearborn Michigan United States. I am
willing to be compensated for 1 of my kidneys, I am in a terrible need to support my family. I am 30 years old and I have a 9 year and 5 year old. I play basketball once a week and ride bikes with kids. I do drink occassionally and take pain killers twice a week. I am a healthy eater.

Posted by: Rick Finley | May 19, 2009 10:06:09 AM

I am a 47 year old male in very good health with A+ blood type. I do not use drugs, or drink. I am an educator with a large family who is in dire financial straits! I am willing to become a "compensated gifter", and travel anywhere to complete the donation process. Please only serious contacts!


Posted by: Coach | May 8, 2009 1:28:54 PM

Am a willing donor.contact me on kmaindi@yahoo.com. my blood group is AB+.


Posted by: kanene | Apr 21, 2009 11:36:14 AM

Man 42 years old from Sweden,in exellent health would like to donate my kidney.
I never used any drugs,i do not drink any alcohol.
My blood typ is A+
would need to be covered for all medical,travel, and loss wages, I am willing to travel outside of sweden
E-mail: born.to.be@live.se

Posted by: living donor | Apr 1, 2009 6:14:48 PM

sell one of my kidneys to save two lives I am 26 years old my blood type is o + interested write to my mail outsideman@hotmail.com the price is negotiable i'm from peru

Posted by: henry | Mar 25, 2009 10:03:32 PM

Dear Joe,

I really need a kidney. One from someone that made poor choices in life...because I believe this person most likely is one that kept healthy, didn't do any recreational drugs, and avoided fried food.

Additionally, I would prefer to find someone that did not have the money to afford the best medical insurance, or show up for regular appointments? Rabies? Nah...put a little windex on it and it will go away...and at $1.79 a bottle, sure is cheaper than the doc.

Third, I need someone that is just plain stupid enough to go on line and sell theirs in the open market from websites they never have visited before and really lack the cognitive ability to know if they are being scammed. I mean, I'm gonna club him and pull out the leatherman anyways once we start walking out to the car, so money really isn't an object. Well it is for you, but for me...well, I'm gonna take what you have on you as well as your kidney, so I guess it really is a moot point for the two of us to be talking about.

Please, let me know if you can find anyone that meets the criteria.

Posted by: clifyt | Mar 19, 2009 3:40:37 PM

the economy and poor choices have left me desperate
I will sell one of my 2 kidneys for a new lease on life
Serious inquiries only

Posted by: s | Mar 19, 2009 2:52:15 PM

im 28,healthy male,b+ , looking for someone in need of kidney.contact me at johnathonjohnson60@yahoo.com

Posted by: johnathon | Mar 14, 2009 7:56:57 AM

I am a 46yr old,white,healthy male non-drinker, I am not selling my kidney , but rather donating one,however, I would like a generous (gift) for my time/loss of income/pain/transportation/ and all medical costs.my blood type 0- serious inquirers only. you can e-mail me at tb30016@comcast.net

Posted by: tim | Feb 5, 2009 3:03:58 PM

27 yr old athletic man in the united states willing to "make a deal" for my kidney. O+


Posted by: coop | Feb 2, 2009 9:37:49 PM


Posted by: giannis aekaras | Jan 22, 2009 9:36:45 AM

I have a kidney for sell from my body,I live in capetown Southafrica ,aged 22yrs.perfectly healthy and willing to sell at $7000 negotiable.email me on lenninchapidzinga@gmail.com.

Posted by: lenin | Jan 9, 2009 9:41:05 AM

Yes, it tells me that you are an idiot and more likely than not, a result of inbreeding.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Jan 3, 2009 11:06:28 AM

Forgot to include my email hawaii69@aol.com for the kidney sale.

Posted by: Renee | Jan 3, 2009 10:23:27 AM

I am a healthy 39 year old female who doesn't drink or smoke. I am educated and have a job that I am grateful for, but I live in Michigan (which should tell you something there) and I am having a hard financial time with 2 kids. I am O positive and never had any illness so yes I would be willing to sell my kidney to help someone else. I see no problem with my decision. Serious offers only.

Posted by: Renee | Jan 3, 2009 10:10:09 AM

Seriously ya'll...we need samples. I don't need both kidneys, just send one...airmail packed in ice and stabalized...and if it is acceptable, we will send a preaddressed, postage paid mailer for the other.

Same with livers...you can send half now, half when we pay you.

Email for instructions...

Posted by: clifyt | Dec 30, 2008 12:39:11 PM

I can't believe that this is still going...

oh wait...

I can.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Dec 30, 2008 7:04:32 AM

ill sell anything email tho.masc@hotmail.com

Posted by: thomas | Dec 29, 2008 9:41:43 PM

hmmm so many ppl want to sell there organs due financialy problems well i'm not in financial problems but my brother is realy sick and he needs money but non of my family have it thats why i like to sing myself up for donar i hear you can live with 1 kidney so if it helps my kid brother i would be glad to help i'm in perfect health and not old only 27y i live in belgium europe and what i found out its not legal here but i also did some searching and it came to my attencion i can also sell some of my liver what ever can help my brother i'm willing to do it

if your serious you can contact me at pieter_delaet1981@y­ahoo.com and i will be happy to give you more information about my health blood type ect...

Posted by: pieter | Dec 29, 2008 2:07:07 AM

Hi I`m a 40 yearold man with B+ bloodtype. I am willing to donate my kidney. Contact me at bajaalexis@hotmail.com. thankyou

Posted by: ruben | Dec 19, 2008 7:14:53 AM

hi ,
i m suresh prajapati from ahmedabad, gujarat, india.
i want to help you but i want some money.it is not the charge of my kidney but i m in big financial problem and i want money. for solve my finance problem.i promis that i will return this money to u within 2-3 years.

my blood group is O+.
if u can trust me than i can help u.i want 50000$

waiting for rply

Suresh Prajapati

Posted by: suresh | Nov 17, 2008 6:22:19 AM

. Anyone in L.A., PHX, S.F., S.D., L.V., SLC, Basically - SW United States, need a healthy kidney? 44 yr old healthy wh. m. N/S, N/D,(type B+) able to travel to donate 1 kidney. Terms negotiable. No BS.
reply to: jdbass.ssp81@yahoo.com
a decision will be made on or about NOV 20.

Posted by: jdBassman | Nov 13, 2008 12:23:57 AM

Oh oh misunderstands, woe and tooth gnashings of Flatel, poor unhapy angst-rid Flatel!!!
Repeating to fine US Udi, no flutes flauts here with Flatel, is only one --pleas read lipps, room for one only and he, lovely Flatel.
Oh sad today,
However still waits,
Flatel :-(

Posted by: woe is Flatel | Nov 10, 2008 5:26:49 PM

Oh, crap, I meant FLAUTIST..............sorry

Posted by: Udi | Nov 10, 2008 4:44:47 PM

I Flatel myself without knowing of Flutist thing, what that, sounding bad. One Flatel, allway Flatel most assure, please thanxs!!

Much waiting, long time now,
still, many love to US,
one only Flatel

Posted by: Flatel only! | Nov 10, 2008 2:06:23 PM

Flatel?-----Flutist???? Yeah, I think so. Think about it people!!

Posted by: Udi | Nov 10, 2008 12:56:57 PM

anyone needing an O pos kidney for suitable compensation email me at southernchick512@yahoo.com

Posted by: southernchick512 | Nov 10, 2008 9:38:28 AM

Jose here from the philippines 21 years old. i'm selling my kidney for $5,000, i need money for my family. email me at butcherific66@yahoo.com or contact me +639208607134 asap

Posted by: Jose | Oct 30, 2008 11:41:54 AM

Hey, your loss. If you want some weird foreign appendix with god only know what type of gut flora, it's your call. If you want some fine, red-blooded US American appendix, with bacteria made in the US for the US, I'm your man.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Oct 25, 2008 10:43:54 PM

Rocketboy: You are making it mighty hard to strike a deal here. Despite my original intentions, I just might have to give androgynous Flatel, as bottom deficient as he is, an in over you.

Posted by: Milena | Oct 25, 2008 11:54:37 AM

Milena... The problem with 'other' compensation, is that my appendix would be out forever. 'Other' compensation would be over, well, let's just say WAY before that. I've tried that before for my big toe, and for a bit of happyness, I've been stuck walking at 12degree angles for the rest of my life.

Unless there's some term of 'long term lease' deal that could be worked out. If so, I'm all ears. Well, really, one ear, as I've alredy sold one of them.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Oct 25, 2008 11:18:21 AM

Why are you guys making a joke about this??? I need my spare livers! Anyone with legitimate medical knowledge (I know, wrong site) tell me if you can hook these things up in series or even parallel like a battery? I'm not just looking to replace mine, I want to augment it. After the camp out last week where I had to bury my face in the sand and put a toe into the lake so that the ground didn't crawl out from underneath me, I think I need some serious help. Either they make alcohol less tasty, or I get my multiple livers doing their god-given duty.

Beyond that, I don't want any livers that are going to give me a desiring for either Borscht or Curry. I don't have an addictive nature of any sort, but these foods cause me to over-indulge. Yes, I know...hard to believe. So the offers I've had above are unacceptable. What I would like would be either one from a hard drinking Asian businessman that that is down on his luck. Or just any random Irish-person. Doesn't matter. Obviously their genetics are made for the task.

I will give my POBox on demand for the organs to be delivered. COD only.

Posted by: clifton t marsupial | Oct 25, 2008 9:56:16 AM

Rocketboy: Oh! you were talking monetary compensation... Somehow, the thought of our trading money had never crossed my mind. ;-)

Flatel: Don't know what to say. For my part I do believe you are serious and would wish to help in any way possible. I've been told my ass is fine on occasion but I'm sorta partial to this beechbal if you know what I mean. How much money are we talking about here? Not willing to enter in same transaction as I was offering Rocketboy.

Mejeanne: Get the shoes.

Posted by: Milena | Oct 25, 2008 6:32:25 AM

To mr Rocket Boy, America US, I think,
Oh, you wound poor poor Flatel, so serious to seek of improve ass in fine US!!! Perhaps yourself quallify for donate, must see first.
Flatel to surely outbids Milena on parts, be assure!!!!

Sincerly truthly,

Posted by: Flatel | Oct 25, 2008 12:27:04 AM

They took my appendix out "as long as we were in there" when I had a big hysterectomy way back last century. And made the scar crooked, haha. Joe, you know how doctors are, you know it's the truth. I have not been the same since. Now it occurs to me, I need an appendix! It's like when you first see Blahnik heels with ruffles and you go, ono, that's what's missing from my life. I mean, maybe I need an appendix, who knows really? Though, for only $900 I could get the shoes . . .

Posted by: Majeanne | Oct 24, 2008 5:57:33 PM

Flatel.. Excuse me sir or madame, we are having a serious discusion about serious matters. Please, serious questions only.

Milena.. My appendix is in great condidition. I can provide a doctor's note if you would like. As far as the amount involved, we'll have to take this discussion offline. There are too many jokers around.

Like that darn Flatel idiot. Sorry for the language, but they really burn my cockles.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Oct 24, 2008 5:50:37 PM

Hello hello to US
I too looking for trnsplant but not for kindey, mine workng good, drinkx in and pee out very fine, very fine, pleas to thanx you in US.
Needing here for ass tranxplnt exchange, mine too much large and flatt also, I am lookout for small litel and more round like beechbal.
This is very problem and embarris to me please to US for help with fine ass. Will given my old use one to any. I have monies but not doctors to operat an exchnge. Oh yes I am guy so hairry is ok too.

Love to you US fine poeple,

Posted by: Flatel | Oct 24, 2008 1:38:16 PM

Hola Rocketboy,

Listen, if your appendix is a 'rocket' as you, then I do want it. Badly. What would you like me to trade you in return?

(Lately, I've been clicking on any new one I haven't read and I must say that they provide even more diversion than the original post).

Posted by: Milena | Oct 24, 2008 1:00:52 PM

Hello Milena,

Are you saying that you don't want to buy my appendix? I'm confused.

(I too get a kick out of the strange comments on old posts.)

Posted by: Rocketboy | Oct 24, 2008 12:33:53 PM

Joe, it is plain that there is something about your blog that catapults misreading issues to new heights. That's a post subject all on its own if I ever saw one, but I digress...

Between the junior CIA, the Fish pedicure, India's living treasure and now this organ donor article (I'm sure there are others I've yet to discover) I've noticed that you have become a sort of unwitting forum for people who do not seem to pay attention. I felt tempted to do as Clifyt did here but the subject matter was too serious for me to be able to joke about successfully. I wonder why they don't read.

Posted by: Milena | Oct 24, 2008 10:44:57 AM

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