Reporter spammed by would-be organ donors after writing about Indian kidney trade
But this is exactly what happened to Los Angeles Times South Asia News Correspondent Shashank Bengali, as he claims to have received emails from more than 50 people interested in selling their vital organs for money.
Bengali wrote on the LAT that he started getting the requests after reporting that one of the “most reputed” hospitals in India’s financial capital of Mumbai went bust because it was arranging illicit kidney transfers.
The article clearly detailed how those suspected of being involved in the business were arrested, but that didn’t seem to have registered with the emailers, who started turning to Bengali for help in selling their own body parts.
“My inbox began to fill up with prospective kidney sellers,” the correspondent wrote in a follow-up article for the LAT.
“They came from everywhere: India, mostly, but also Germany, Russia, Croatia, Peru, Kenya, Nigeria – even the United States, from a man with an Ohio number who claimed to be a retired Marine.”
The first to get in touch was a 27-year-old man from Bangladesh, who in January last year texted Bengali, saying: “Sir, I’m sell my body one kidney.”
He specified his blood type and provided his phone number before adding in broken English: “From Bangladeshi poor people money problem life.”
According to Bengali, the reason for so many aspiring donors suddenly contacting him was that his article was the first to pop up on Google when anyone typed in “sell my kidney.”
One desperate 22-year old from the Indian state of Bihar told Bengali that he had a degree in economics but the only job he got was as a delivery man for Amazon, which paid him about $110 a month.
He told Bengali in mid-September that he wanted to sell his organs as he needed money to repay a loan that his family had taken out.
Despite at last seeming to realize what he was demanding is in fact illegal, he added: “I don’t have anything to sell except my body part. Please find a way for me.”
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