Book Review: The Kidney Sellers

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What would you think if it were legal to sell unneeded parts of your body to those needing them, to raise money? And who would do such a thing? That is just what Sigrid Fry-Revere, a bioethicist and lawyer, encountered in Iran. Read The Kidney Sellers and learn how, spurred to action by the kidney cancer of her infant son, and the potential of his later kidney transplant, she began researching alternatives to enduring forever on a waiting list with little hope of actually receiving approval for a kidney. She followed her research to Iran, where donors could sell a kidney for money while they were still alive, after health screening and emotional evaluation to make sure the payment was really the best method and sufficient to solve their financial problem. As an example, since donating a kidney is a one-time scenario, if doing so would jeopardize the donor’s job through work time lost, it would not lead to long-term positive results.

Sigrid Fry-Revere travelled with Iranian doctor Bahar Bastani from the United States on a lecture tour, who acted as her translator and cultural advocate, paving the way to visit several organ medicine facilities and conduct hundreds of interviews with donors, recipients, and administrators. The stories they heard were at times heartbreaking, as they met those with extreme financial need, drug addiction, and ultimately altruistic feelings towards friends and family in need. Trafficking commands grossly inflated prices in countries where organ sale is illegal, for the luxury of being able to buy a vital organ to save a life. Dialysis is really only a temporary crutch, and most dialysis patients live no longer than five years before the toxins their kidney can no longer filter out overcome their body, causing their ultimate death. Therefore, other options are needed now.

Fry-Revere is the President of a new non-profit organization, Stop Organ Trafficking Now, which intends to lobby Congress to help stop organ trafficking by restoring the original intent of the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984. Legalizing some forms of government funded compensation for kidney donors for at least their donation related expenses could potentially ease the kidney shortage problem in the United States, while simultaneously lowering the overall cost to Medicare for treating kidney disease patients.

Scheduled to be released in March 2014, you can save 20% on a pre-publication order of The Kidney Sellers at the publisher’s webpage: See for more information.


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