Feb 172014

The Kidney Sellers: A Journey of Discovery in Iran

The Kidney Sellers coverTITLE: The Kidney Sellers: A Journey of Discovery in Iran
GENRE: Creative non-fiction, non-fiction adventure (adult and young adult)
AUTHOR: Sigrid Fry-Revere
PUBLISHER: Carolina Academic Press (but book is written for a general audience)
PUBLICATION: March 1, 2014
FORMAT: jacketed hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-61163-512-6
INDEX: Yes, further reading sources in Notes

Book Summary

Dr. Fry-Revere is the first Westerner ever to interview kidney sellers in the one country in the world that claims to have solved it’s kidney shortage. Rarely does an adventure story carry such social significance as in this groundbreaking work. Dr. Fry-Revere spent two months in Iran interviewing and filming her subjects without permission from the Iranian government. She shares her discoveries in this fascinating book: part diary living in a dangerous country, part ethnographic essay, and part tale of people working together to overcome death and financial ruin. The Kidney Sellers is a shocking, thought-provoking, true story.

Sigrid Fry-Revere is the ethics consultant for the Washington Regional Transplant Community’s Organ and Tissue Advisory Committee and project director of the Center for Ethical Solution’s SOS (Solving the Organ Shortage) project. She has written hundreds of articles for publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, The Journal of Clinical Ethics, and Pediatric Nursing. She is also the author of one book (The Accountability of Bioethics Committees and Consultants) and has edited another (Ethics & Answers in Home Health Care). Sigrid holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and a law degree, both from Georgetown University.

My Review

This book was mind-blowing…

Thinking about all the media has taught us about Iran {and the middle east in general} and how we are to be in a state of mortal fear about Iranian’s, especially if we travel into Iran, it is hard to believe, yet completely believable, that Iran has seemingly found a means to literally end the kidney donation crisis within their country with almost NO ONE going without a needed transplant AND a list of donors LONGER than the list of kidneys needed!

Immediately I thought “why? why do we refuse to admit that they may be onto something? That they may be right? Are politics really worth allowing thousands to die just because we can’t/won’t admit that Iran may be onto something, something good!?”

The Kidney Sellers opened my eyes to a world that I honestly didn’t know existed. It brings us through author/researcher/explorer/doctor Sigrid’s journey into finding out what no one else had ever done and in a country that women shouldn’t be doing such things.

Traveling into a country that she really only knew what books prepared her for, with another man, and no real clue what to expect or the knowledge of whether or not she would be arrested, kidnapped or even killed, all in the name of finding out the truth.

The truth about living kidney donors and sellers. The truth about how much money a kidney costs in Iran – which according to her numbers at the time, is about $5000 dollars, in a country where the average income is only $3000 per year this is truly a life-giving and life-sustaining win-win situation for both the donors and the recipients.

While The Kidney Sellers is very fact based because it is after all a non-fiction account of Sigrid’s journey, it reads like a novel blended with a captivating news article that you quite literally cannot put down. With each page you learn more. More about the culture. The fears. The process. The people both here and there who gave Sigrid the drive to push forward. You learn.

Sigrid definitely embarked on controversial and groundbreaking research on her journey to finding out what is really going on in Iran as far as ” The Kidney Sellers” go. She speaks about the people she has met there, and here and those who survived and those who didn’t. She tells you how it is, the odds of survival, the false hopes of so many Americans who are awaiting a living donation or for a cadaver.

I recommend The Kidney Sellers to anyone and everyone because at some point we will all encounter one person or another, maybe even ourselves, who need the benefit of organ donation and are trapped by bureaucratic junk, sentencing us to a drawn out, painful and almost always inevitable death.

While my opinions are definitely my own on this and I don’t expect everyone or anyone to agree I strongly recommend that people read this book and do their research from both sides before screaming down the house about ethics and human rights.

I give this book a very strong five stars, based on the GoodReads rating, that means it was “Amazing”

Early Praise for The Kidney Sellers

“Sigrid Fry-Revere has given us an amazing, courageous, provocative, even dangerous look at the complex and generally successful system of selling/donation that has solved the kidney supply problem in Iran. Eloquently, humorously written, it is one of my best reads in years–fascinating to anyone who loves a good travel adventure story, but essential for anyone interested in overcoming the organ transplant problem that costs thousands of lives each year.” –Robert Veatch, Ph.D., Professor of Medical Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Fellow of the Hastings Center. In 1983 Dr. Veatch testified before Congress in favor of outlawing kidney sales.

“The Kidney Sellers is exciting, well written, and insightful. This book is going to revolutionize the way we think about living kidney donation.”Harvey Mysel, Founder, Living Kidney Donors Network.

“The Kidney Sellers offers an invaluable and hopeful contribution to a long-standing controversy. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to take improving donation rates seriously.”Jim Gleason, UNOS board member, TRIO (Transplant Recipients International Organization) president.

Author Biography

The Kidney Sellers Author Sigrid Fry-RevereSigrid Fry-Revere, J.D., Ph.D., is the founder and president of the Center for Ethical Solutions, a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to educating the public on issues in patient care ethics. Sigrid is also the medical ethics consultant to the Washington D.C. Regional Transplant Community’s Organ and Tissue Advisory Committee, and just founded a new 501(c)(4) non-profit “Stop Organ Trafficking Now.” She has taught bioethics and law at the university of Virginia and George Mason University; been a consultant to hospitals, hospices, and home health agencies; and practiced health and FDA law. Sigrid’s more than a hundred articles have appeared in newspapers, journals, and trade publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, The Journal of Clinical Ethics, and Pediatric Nursing. Sigrid holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and a law degree, both from Georgetown University. The Kidney Sellers: A Journey of Discovery in Iran is her first non-fiction adventure book. She lives with her husband Bob Corn-Revere on a farm in Northern Virginia where they raised their four children. (Full CV available upon request.)

Author’s Website with photo gallery




My Final Thoughts

I have actually debated organ donation, especially liver because the liver will, overtime, heal itself and work completely normal. I used to donate blood regularly however a medication I am on no longer allows for me to donate. If/when I am no longer on that medication I will begin to donate blood again and I will look into donating bone marrow as well as part of my liver.

If you are not willing to entertain the idea of being a “living donor” then I suggest filling out your donor card that comes with your drivers license so that there is no mistake about your wishes if something happens and results in your family having to make a difficult choice.

I am in Canada and they do not compensate here for blood donation. I am not sure what the rules are in the USA but this is honestly one of the easiest and simplest ways that you can truly be a life-giving source. Your blood donation can help up to 8 people, including premature babies, cancer patients and in the OR {operating room}. Where I live they take whole blood and you can donate every 63 days as it takes that long for your blood to re-establish itself to a more than safe level so that you can donate again. There are facilities that will take donations of other “parts” of your blood that can actually be donated weekly, last I donated anyway.

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  3 Responses to “The Kidney Sellers – Sigrid Fry-Revere”

  1. we are flat broke and have no other option after loosing my job a year ago and Iam interested in selling my organ, Iam 54 My phone # 417-549-0579

    • Selling your Kidneys is only legal in Iran and you must be an Iranian citizen in order to do it both safely and legally. If you are worried about money their are many legal ways to get money that aren’t dangerous. While the black market in the US is nearly non-existent there are huge penalties for selling your organs in any country, including a 50,000 dollar fine and five years in jail. I wish you the best of luck and strongly recommend that you look into other opportunities.

  2. If you are not in Iran it is illegal to sell your kidney. It is also illegal to sell your kidney by traveling to Iran. You can face a huge fine, I believe up to 50,000 PLUS up to five years in jail even if the procedure is NOT done in the United States. Donating an organ for profit or personal gain is highly illegal. For more information contact your country regarding organ donation to find out current policies. I should add that in Iran they only receive about 3000 for their kidney. It is also NOT recommended to do if you are a woman of child-bearing age from what I understand. If you think you won’t get caught if you do it out of country consider the next time you need an MRI, Ultrasound or even a physical exam as it will be noticed and correct legal steps will be taken to prosecute you and the recipient.

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