By Anna Bennett
UPDATE: Jan 31, 2009 We have been contacted by the author of the blog quoted below. As it is illegal in Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States to purchase organs for transplant, in a compromise we have removed the archive of the original blog (which the author (now referred to as Bambi) deleted) and have redacted anything identifying the author.
Bambi's Journey is a blog about desperation. Bambi was desperate for a kidney, the hospital in Pakistan was desperate for foreign cash, and the donor, was desperate for money to ease the family's struggle with poverty.In the latest entry in the blog, Bambi has a new kidney, the transplant hospital has been paid, and we presume that the donor has returned to their life, one less kidney and with some compensation.
This is amazing to read. Neither Bill nor I have ever read a first person account of a compensated foreign kidney transplant. It elicits some powerful responses. For me, a recent deceased donor transplant recipient, it gives an account of the transplant process in a third world country with the added dimension of secrecy. The hospital advises:
...you keep a low profile and not interact with anyone from the outside, even if it is family. REDACTED
Bambi writes about the matching process and on arrival in Pakistan, had to wait a few days for the hospital to find a match. (I was on the UNOS list for 3.5 years) According to the blog:
They [the hospital] have almost 500 donors on their books. All REDACTED with O+ blood group, since this is a universal blood type and anyone can receive an organ from this blood group.
Also there seems to be many little hidden additional costs. I will need to pay more $ for donors that they will need to test to find a perfect match. They charge $250 for each new donor that they cross-match after the first 2 cross-matches, until they find the right match. They conveniently forgot to mention this vital information.
Bambi secretly tipped the donor 70,000 Pakistan Rupees (US $888.21):
In keeping with the comparison, as a token of thanks, I sent a letter (to maintain anonymity via UNOS/OPTN) to my donor's family.
Foreign Transplants are a controversial subject, and are widely written about from a pundit and medical perspective. From 11/07 edition of Transplant international : Official Journal of the European Society for Organ Transplantation A socioeconomic survey of kidney vendors in Pakistan:
Rarely do we get a first hand account. I am sorry that Bambi reached such a level of desperation that Bambi was compelled to travel to an underprivileged country for a transplant. I thank Bambi for sharing her experience. It is a window into organ trade that is illuminating and thought provoking.