Iran Has A Legal Market Where You Can Sell Your Kidney

Link of the day: Iran has a legal market for organs

Wow. It was only today that I learned that you could actually officially legally sell your organs on a kidney market in Iran. To anyone. You register with the government, they pay for the procedure and you get $4,600 for it after everything is done. Consequently, Iran neither has a waiting list nor a shortage of organs. From the LA Times article:

Since 1993, doctors in Iran have performed more than 30,000 kidney transplants this way.

This is really interesting. Of all countries, I would not have expected Iran to be so liberal. Of course, not everything is going smoothly:

“Kidney for sale,” read the dozens of messages, accompanied by phone numbers and blood types, splashed along a tree-lined street opposite the Hasheminejad Kidney Center in Tehran. […] Sellers have learned that they can cut side deals to earn up to thousands more from well-off Iranians eager to bypass the roughly yearlong wait for a transplant under the government system, or foreigners barred from the national program. In recent years, doctors have been caught attempting to perform transplants for Saudis who obtained forged Iranian IDs.

I also find it interesting that this is so little discussed around the world. Iran has had this market for almost 30 years and neither have they stopped nor have other states decided to follow their lead.


  1. I think the waiting time refers to the donor, not the receiver. If three is an abundance of kidneys it would not be surprising if you could quickly get one, but needed to wait a while in order to sell one. My explanations for waiting times in general would be:
    – it takes some time to do background checks and to make sure the donor is healthy
    – you need a very precise match between donor and receiver in terms of biological compatibility.

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