Don’t worry if any of your organs fail! We provide for you within a week so that you can easily say no to Azrael! This could have been the job ad notice of the man who we interviewed in this report. Apparently, it is difficult to find somebody who runs an underground but organized job in Tehran. With the help of some go-betweens, we finally managed to interview him in his office. Upon entering his office, anyone’s attention could be drawn to the photos of the Eiffel Tower and the Tower of Pisa, which might seem strange, especially when you know his real job and expect to see the photos of human organs all around the office. However, there is no time for such thoughts. The host enters with a smile. After a short chat about this and that, he starts amiably and eagerly to talk about his rare but unusual job.
From selling kidneys to dealing human organs, the stylish calm 39-year-old Kambiz, who has a high school diploma in humanities, can quickly find the necessary organs for the many patients who need organ donation but cannot stand waiting on the long lists of organ donation institutions. In fact, he is a broker of human organ sales. Kambiz used to be a leather manufacturer but went bankrupt in 2007 when he became so desperate that he had to sell one of his kidneys to avoid jail. With a look of sorrow on his face, he told of those bitter days. Within a few minutes, he pulled himself together and continued, “I got the idea of this job when I was looking for a customer for my kidney. As I have a special blood type, I got many phone calls from many customers, each of whom offered a higher bid, so I was tempted to organize a business to find organs for those who need organ donation.” He then immediately started talking about his queries and actions to set up a business which he called “human organ marketing”. He added, “I first started trading kidneys. You can find many kidney sales ads near the hospitals around Vanak in Tehran. I spent an entire day finding and talking to people to get the basic information. The main problem was to find a customer, who most of these guys were unable to identify, but I was raised in the market and knew all about business. First, I tried to access the list of those who were waiting for kidney donation. I managed to get the list within one month.” He was unwilling to say anything about how to find the list of names, which should usually be confidential. However, if we accept the general principle that it is not apparently that impossible to access confidential information in Iran, he may have not spent so much time and energy finding such a list. His profit from the first kidney deal he closed was two million tomans after two months. You could see the glimmers of pride in his eyes when he was raving about his first deal. “There was this one person who had been looking for a healthy kidney. Usually, most of those who publish organ sales ads are drug addicts or have other complications, so this one customer did not trust the ads. I managed to contact him in a way. Accidently, I had the phone number of a young man who needed money to cover the expenses of his mother’s surgery and agreed to sell his kidney for six million tomans in 2008. I told the hasty buyer that the price was eight million tomans. The deal was finally closed, and I got a handsome profit worth two million tomans.” At that time, two million tomans was not a small figure, so his temptation soared, and he decided to expand his business, despite some difficulties. He added, “I was hustled many times at first. For example, I would spend a lot of time finding a buyer for a healthy kidney, but when I was making arrangements for a surgery, the owner had sold the kidney because both the buyer and the seller would enter a laboratory together for the necessary tests and agree to go behind my back. Then I was left high and dry. After a while, I found a solution to this problem. I would give a share of the fee to the seller as a down payment and sign a contract with him/her that he would have had to pay me double the down payment if he/she had sold the kidney. Likewise, I would have the buyer pay me a sum as a down payment.” With his creativity, his business grew quickly. Since 2011, he started dealing other human organs for donation. “After two years, I hired a few people to patrol near the gates of hospitals and find customers. One day, an employee of mine called and said, ‘Kambiz, there is someone who seeks for a heart and is willing to even pay 50 million tomans!’ I first replied, ‘Nobody sells a heart, idiot!’ But then I was struck by brain-dead patients. Once, I received a list of patients waiting for the liver transplants instead of a list that I asked for the patients waiting for kidneys. The guy who brought me the list said that such organs would usually be provided by hospitals and taken from brain-dead patients. After that, I hired a few people to collect information from brain-dead patients from hospitals. Then I started dealing other human organs.” He now closes deals on all human organs for donation. If you need an organ, just contact Kambiz and reach an agreement with him on the price. Pay the fee so that your problem is taken care of immediately. Regarding obstacles to his business, he said, “Since the hospital security forces are usually suspected about my employees moving around hospitals, I have to change their spots every month or hire new employees. I was even arrested once, and I am now free on a bail bond. I now prefer to use low-risk methods such as recruiting the staff of some hospitals.” How much are Kambiz’s brokers paid? “I used to pay them on commissions, but most of them went behind my back when they learned my line of work. Now I pay them two million tomans monthly. I have also hired a psychiatrist, whom I pay three million tomans monthly, to talk with the families of brain-dead patients.” He earns a 200-million-toman profit a month! I asked him about his income, and he replied reluctantly, “It depends! Sometimes, 100 million tomans a month! Some other times, 200 million tomans a month. It depends! But I’m quite famous now. Even some doctors introduce their patients to me, so my lists of buyers and sellers become longer and longer.” Apparently, the economic recession of the recent years brought Kambiz a good fortune because
many people went to him to send their organs. He then talked about the key point in his business, “Human organs have no price, and I usually set a price with respect to the customer. The organs of some blood types such as B+ are also more expensive.” He then told me of the prices, and the figures were spinning around my head for a minute. The dear broker talked about prices and said, “A kidney is between 25 and 70 million tomans. A heart is between 70 and 200 million tomans. A lung is between 12 to 50 million tomans. A liver is worth nearly 30 million tomans. A pancreas is worth nearly 45 million tomans.” All in all, a healthy body is worth nearly 500 million tomans at least. More interestingly, a broker set its price. He then added, “After four years of work, I now know the human organs like a doctor. I can easily tell if someone’s body is healthy. I also provide the buyer a free checkup to make sure his/her body is healthy. I usually add a clause to the contract and say that I don’t give a refund if something goes wrong, but I’m in no mood for trouble, so I usually consult two specialists about the buyer and the seller.” I find the notion of signing a contract interesting. It is business legal at all? How can it be conducted under a legal contract? I asked him about the net profit which he previously mentioned, and he replied, “I now have 20 marketers and six employees in the company. I also have to give a consultation fee to a specialist, so I pay at least 50 million tomans to people. Sometimes, I must work with other psychiatrists and lawyers, and I have to pay them tens of million tomans to keep their mouths shut. There are also current expenditures. Generally, running this office costs nearly 70 million tomans a month.” With all these figures, Kambiz earns a net profit of 100 million tomans a month. He then added, “I used to work with any buyers, but now I look for the rich. For example, there was this rich old man whose heart worked with a battery. He was looking for a healthy heart. I found a brain-dead man from Isfahan and personally went there and bought the dead man’s heart for 70 million tomans. Then I sold it to the rich old man for 150 million tomans. I usually add up to 10 million tomans to each organ.”
There is now the lung cancer that has provided golden opportunities for brokers. I asked him about the most popular organ on his sales list. He said, “The lung cancer has been growing in recent years, and there are many customers for this organ, so it has been sold recently for even up to 60 million tomans.” From what he says, it seems that he has some associates in other provinces. He added, “It is now very hard to enter hospitals in Tehran. TV commercials and media encourage the families of the brain-dead people to donate their organs for free to those who are in need of organ donation. So I made contact with some individuals in the hospitals of deprived provinces because they are willing to sell the organs of the dead more easily and more cheaply. I bought a heart from Ilam for 30 million tomans today and sold it for 50 million tomans.” He then talked about subfield of his job, in which he has been operating for one year. “Surrogacy has gained in popularity recently. We find the female candidate (having a womb) and look for customers at infertility clinics. The price varies from 25 to 40 million tomans. We usually pay 20 million tomans to the woman who carries the womb.” The woman who needs money carries a baby for nine months, and the broker receives a net profit of 20 million tomans. He wanted to justify his job, so he said, “After all, I have save many people’s lives, so I deserve this money. Many people have earned a living by selling their organs. If I had not sold my own kidney, I don’t know on which bed I would be sleeping at Evin now.” I asked him about a discount. He retorted, “I work only with the rich. I don’t like to hear the sighs and moans of the needy, but I have even given up to five-million discounts to some people. Generally, I can’t reduce the price because the doctors who work with me know the rates. If I do so, everyone will be informed quickly. I may charge even higher prices, but I don’t give discounts.” I find it hard to believe that a specialist who earns millions of tomans every month works with a broker. He explained, “The doctors who introduce buyers do not charge me. When their patients are willing to pay the fees to avoid waiting on the list, the doctors introduce them to me.” I asked him about those who died of normal deaths. Apparently, they are profitable, too. Kambiz said, “Some organs are transplantable within 48 hours after death, but the most important and useful part of their body is their skin!” Seemingly, skin grafting is attractive to those who have suffered burns and scalds or the women who are worried about skin sagging and wrinkles. He told of the price of skin donation, “It depends. The minimum price is 20 million tomans, but I have even earned up to 100 million tomans for skin grafting.” I left his office wondering whether he was a savior of people or only a broker caring about money. After all, his job tells us that you can buy not only some people with money but also some organs of their living or dead bodies.