In what may be a somewhat sensationalized report, the Latvian news portal www.apollo.lv is reporting that increasing numbers of apparently unemployed Latvians are offering to sell their organs, mainly kidneys, on the internet.
According to the website, the practice is not sanctioned by he Latvian Trasnplantation Center, but legal experts say selling kidneys is not forbidden (though in a legal gray area).
Prices asked for "healthy kidneys" on the Latvian classified ads site zip.lv range from LVL 5000 (USD 10 000) to LVL 50 000 (USD 100 000).
The kidney sellers interviewed by apollo.lv say they are in debt and unemployed, or in some cases, willing to sell the organ in order to "live, rather than exist" (an 18-year old) after paying off unnamed bills and debts.
While many of the organ sellers may be genuinely desperate, some may be using their kidneys as a substitute for the easy credit of a few years ago, when it was possible to borrow several tens of thousands of LVL to buy luxury goods, electronics, foreign travel or an apartment).
The reports of organ selling put Latvia, an EU member state, on the same level as some Third World countries, where the practice is widespread among the poor.