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Would-be immigrants willing to swap kidney for passport
People desperate to come to New Zealand are prepared to swap a kidney for residency.

New Zealand Kidney Foundation education manager Carmel Gregan-Ford, who runs the foundation's internet site, said she had received emails on the foundation's website from Asians offering to sell a kidney or to swap one in return for residency.

CARMEL GREGAN-FORD: Asians keen to swap a kidney for residency.

"At least once a month or more often I receive emails from people who say they are fit and healthy and willing to 'donate' a kidney in return for payment," Gregan-Ford said.

She also had calls from New Zealanders asking if they could sell their kidneys here or overseas.

"They mostly sound like young people wanting instant money," Gregan-Ford said. "However, I make it clear right from the outset with all inquiries that is not how things are done in New Zealand."

Department of Labour workforce deputy secretary Mary Anne Thompson said the department could not confirm whether its Asian offices had heard of people offering kidneys in return for residency.

"New Zealand's immigration system has robust processes in place which prevents people obtaining residency on the basis of anything other than meeting the criteria outlined in policy. It will come as no surprise to New Zealanders that an offer of a kidney carries no influence with immigration authorities whatsoever."

A worldwide shortage of organs and the growing demand for transplants has created a market which countries such as China are cashing in on.

A medical group offering new organs has been targeting British kidney patients through the internet and it is believed up to 10 people have gone to China to pay about $70,000 for a new organ.

The internet site made it clear the organs were from prisoners who were about to be executed.

It stated the prisoners had given their consent and were told their families would receive money for the organs.

This month, China broke its silence on the issue of the burgeoning business of transplants to admit the organs of executed prisoners were sold to foreigners for transplanting.

Gregan-Ford said she knew of no patients in New Zealand who had been targeted by the group, or who had considered a transplant in China.

"There is always talk about it, but people talk to their nephrologists who do not recom-mend them," she said.

"They will try to put patients off for ethical reasons and for clinical reasons, such as the worry about blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. But people do get desperate, and you can't blame them."

Christchurch kidney specialist and Christchurch Hospital chief of medicine Dr Kelvin Lynn said it was common knowledge, especially among people of Asian origin, that the kidneys and other organs were available in China.

While Lynn was unwilling to comment on whether anyone from New Zealand had received an organ, he said people would search for anything to restore their health.

The waiting list in New Zealand for a new kidney was currently about three years.

Lynn said a surgeon's role was to provide people with the pros and cons of undertaking such a transplant, and not to take a moral stance on it.

"As an individual you may have a definite opinion about it, but it is not illegal and individual patients have the right to try and get the best options they can," Lynn said.


Last Updated ( Dec 14, 2005 at 09:20 AM )