Residents of Afghanistan’s ‘One Kidney Village’ Sell Their Organs to Survive

Shenshayba Bazaar, an Afghan village near the city of Herat, has become known as Afghanistan’s ‘one kidney village’, because of the large number of residents who have sold one of their kidneys in order to make ends meet.

Afghanistan wasn’t doing too well economically before the Taliban came to power last year, but the brutal takeover caused the economy of the Asian country to collapse and left many struggling to put food on the table for their families. In some cases, things got so bad that people decided to sell one of their kidneys in order to pay their debts and buy food. One small village in Herat Province has become known as the ‘one kidney village’, because of the large number of residents who sold one of their kidneys on the black market.

Photo: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

“I didn’t want to, but I didn’t have any option. I did it for my children,” Nooruddin is a 32-year-old father, told Agence France Presse. “I regret it now, I can no longer work,  I’m in pain and I cannot lift anything heavy.”

Selling or buying human organs is illegal in most countries around the world, but in Afghanistan it is unregulated and as long as written consent is expressed by the donor, doctors are in the clear. What happens after the donation, where the organs go, no one really knows, and doctors admit that they never investigate these issues, because “it is not their job” to do so.


While it’s impossible to know exactly how many kidneys have been sold in Afghanistan, records show that hundreds of kidney removal operations have been performed in Herat Province alone in the last few years. And as the economic problems of the people worsen, the number of such procedures only grows.

“I sold my kidney for 250,000 Afghanis ($2,900),” one woman said. “I had to do it. My husband isn’t working, we have debts.”


“My children roam on the streets begging,” Aziza, a mother of three, added. “If I don’t sell my kidney, I will be forced to sell my one-year-old daughter.”

While going as far as selling a kidney may seem extreme to many people, it’s worth remembering the desperate situation Afghanistan is in right now. Over 24 million people — 59 per cent of the population — are at risk of famine, and half a million people lost their jobs after the Taliban took over.


Aghanistan’s ‘one kidney village’, reminded us of another very similar place we wrote about a few years back – Hokse, a village in Nepal where almost everyone has sold one of their kidneys in order to make ends meet.