ONE kidney donor who was promised 180,000 pesos (S$5,500) got only 120,000 pesos in the end.
The dealer who had made the promise was nowhere to be found after the donor gave up his kidney last year.
The predicament of this donor was typical of many others who had been short-changed after donating a kidney, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.
Donors he met told him: 'The dealers sweet-talked us into parting with kidneys, they had no risk and pocketed the bulk of the money.'
On the sidelines of a World Health Organisation meeting last week in the Philippine capital Manila, he met eight such kidney donors from the village of Baseco.
He spoke to them to get a better understanding of why they had given up their kidneys, and how they had since been faring.
All of them were poor, had 'no clue about what they were going into', and did not get follow-up medical care after surgery.
'The situation was just bye-bye, I got your kidney and that's it, you get on with your life, we go our separate ways,' he said. 'The exploitation of the poor is...quite outrageous.'
Fortunately, all the eight he met had remained healthy, including the oldest one in his late 40s, who gave up his kidney more than 10 years ago and had gone on to add nine more children to his brood of four.
But they were all still relatively young, and faced a risk of kidney failure that would increase with age, he noted. By the time their kidneys failed, the little they had been paid earlier would typically have already been spent on a cheap house, loans to poor neighbours, or literally burnt in the sudden fires that frequently razed village homes.
'So who will reimburse them?' Mr Khaw asked.
LEE HUI CHIEH