Chennai: Women in a tsunami colony sell their kidneys to make ends meet. They did it before the tsunami and they continue to do it afterwards. And as long as there's poverty it looks like organ trade will go on.
Tilakavathi is one of the residents of a colony that was built after the tsunami. A widow with three children, she struggled to make ends meet. Desperate, she sold her kidney in 2003, but her broker cheated her of most of the payment.
"I sold my kidney in 2003 before the tsunami. I have no husband and I have three children. I have to feed them and I had no other option," says she.
A few houses away, 30-year-old Shanthi also sold her kidney just two weeks ago, to support her handicapped husband.
"I needed the money badly," says she.
There are about 1,700 families in this tsunami colony and there's been no detailed headcount on how many people have sold their kidneys.
Seventeen people have come forward and claimed that they have sold their kidney - out of this nine sold their kidneys before the tsunami and six after.
Those living here say the numbers could be bigger and that there are many more waiting to sell their organs and its clearly poverty that's pushing them into the organ market.
However, even in the organ market, they get a raw deal - cheated by brokers and too afraid to complain.
Says a kidney donor, Reavthy, "Won't we be scared of going to the court? I have never seen one in my life and because of fear, people don't come forward to tell their story."
The Chennai Police is currently probing four big hospitals in the city for dealing with organs.
Says Commissioner, Chennai City Police, Latika Saran, "This has nothing to do with the tsunami. There are those who have sold their kidneys much before the tsunami. We will submit a detailed report to the concerned authorities."
Activists argue if the livelihoods of the tsunami affected are not taken seriously, poverty will only force more to sell their organs.