ISTANBUL: Turkish police have launched an investigation into online adverts posted by people allegedly so desperate for money they are offering to sell their kidneys, local media reported Monday.
The adverts were apparently linked to an organ trafficking ring which had been carrying out illegal kidney removals and transplants in Turkey as well as Egypt, India, Iran and Iraq and was busted by police in October.
Sellers were asking as much as 150,000 Turkish lira ($73,000, 54,000 euros) for a kidney, often boasting about their good state of health.
"I want to sell my kidney urgently because I am in debt," said one Internet advert published by the Haberturk newspaper in which the seller declared: "I have never tasted alcohol in my life."
"I am selling my liver, kidney and bone marrow," said another. "I work out and walk every day."
Leaders of the trafficking ring took up to $35,000 (26,000 euros) from organ recipients, Haberturk said.
According to health ministry figures, about 20,000 patients in Turkey were awaiting kidney transplants last year, while about 2,000 were waiting for livers.
Turkey is a major transit route for organ trafficking, with operations against illegal rings being carried out almost on a monthly basis, according to media reports.
In 2005, Turkey amended its penal code to explicitly define organ trafficking as a crime, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.