The Iranian Kidney Machine

Market-design maven Al Roth points to a new working paper about Iran’s kidney market. Kidney donors in Iran receive regulated payments from the recipients, a gift from the government “for appreciation of her altruism,” and occasionally an additional payment from the recipient. Once administrators identify an available donor, “a meeting between the two parties is arranged (they are provided with a private area within the foundation building if they want to reach a private agreement) and they will be sent for tissue tests.” Interestingly, Iran’s total kidney donation rate (including live and deceased donors) is only 27.1 per 1 million citizens versus the U.S. rate of 54.7. [%comments]


so much for the vulgar kidney = cash theory


Is participating in a kidney operation more risky in Iran? What is the rate of death for a donor versus the US?


Its likely that major surgery, such as giving up a kidney is dangerous in Iran compared to the US.

Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

Why can't you just steal the kidneys from unsuspecting tourists?

All you need is one, and they just lug that spare kidney around like excess baggage like a la-de-da millionaire. Oh look at me with my TWO KIDNEYS going to party in the Casbah.

......I guess that also explains the Iranian Tourist Market.

Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

Ironically this is one of the interesting faucets of globalization, jihadism, and modern medicine. It is a modern tale that could only happpen recently.

A few years ago the Ayatollah issued a fatwah for the death of Salmon Rushdie after he wrote the "Satanic Verses"--a nonfiction pop novel. The Ayatollah wanted to finance the bounty for assassins by allowing muslims world wide to contribute. They had a web site. The faithful could give cash, or if too impoverished, they could sign up to donate their kidney to a patient in renal failure-- using the interantional market for organs, typically in India.

The cash reward for the donor kidney would be accepted by the Ayatollah with deep reverence appreciation and the money funneled for the assassin fund. They boasted hundreds of faithful donors.

So using world wide Islamic internet social networking sites, the Global Trade of Organs, state of the art Modern Medicine for Transplants, international Islamic finance, the international pool of assassins, the Ayatollah was becoming a conglomerate global player.

It is Medieval meets the Internet Age.


Julien Couvreur

"Only one country, Iran, has eliminated the shortage of transplant organs-and only Iran has a working and legal payment system for organ donation. In this system, organs are not bought and sold at the bazaar. Patients who cannot be assigned a kidney from a deceased donor and who cannot find a related living donor may apply to the nonprofit, volunteer-run Dialysis and Transplant Patients Association (Datpa). Datpa identifies potential donors from a pool of applicants. Those donors are medically evaluated by transplant physicians, who have no connection to Datpa, in just the same way as are uncompensated donors. The government pays donors $1,200 and provides one year of limited health-insurance coverage. In addition, working through Datpa, kidney recipients pay donors between $2,300 and $4,500. Charitable organizations provide remuneration to donors for recipients who cannot afford to pay, thus demonstrating that Iran has something to teach the world about charity as well as about markets.

The Iranian system and the black market demonstrate one important fact: The organ shortage can be solved by paying living donors. The Iranian system began in 1988 and eliminated the shortage of kidneys by 1999."

--- quoted from



The reason Iran has a similar donation rate including cadavar donations is that organs must be taken from dead bodies and matched with a recipient very very quickly. USA has the facilities to do this, up to a point, and Iran doesn't.


one comprehensive study found that of 600 donors, (94.8%) were unrelated to the recipients (source: "Compensated living kidney donation in Iran: donor's attitude and short-term follow-up")

1. blood relation increases the odds of finding a tissue "match".

2. also, the donor and recipient are required to have the same nationality

3. Minority ethnic groups comprise are discriminated againsted and make up a disporportionate percentage of the poor.

4 Primary motivation to donate is the financial incentive (equal to 2 years salary)

Thus, those who have the ability to pay do not share genetic ties to those who need the money and are willing to "DONATE".

Dave Undis

As the death toll from the organ shortage in the United States mounts, public opinion will eventually support paying for human organs. Changes in public policy will then follow.

In the mean time, there is an already-legal way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. UNOS, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative action is required.

Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don't have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Non-donors should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

David J. Undis
Executive Director



I think we could be caught up on wording here.
Is the demand for kidneys in Iran less than in the United States? Perhaps there are only less donors because there are less in need (what causes kidney failure?). This could be an explanation for what #6 has posted.