Poverty in Iraq means there are currently plenty of people willing to sell their kidneys, with middlemen bringing vendor and buyer together.
According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), renal disease is common in the country and more than 5,000 Iraqis currently require urgent kidney transplants. Decades of poor diet, unclean water and lack of medical care have contributed to the high levels of kidney disease.
The main gate of Baghdad’s Karama hospital is the place to go if you want to trade a kidney. A man, who calls himself Bashar, hovers by the entrance, his front business is selling tea and soft drinks but his real trade soon becomes apparent.
"I can get you a healthy kidney. It will cost you US $2,000 to $3,000, you just have to give me your blood type and I will get it for you even before you have finished a cold pepsi," Bashar said, smiling.
Donors are taken into the hospital laboratory where blood tests to establish compatibility are carried out.
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran signed a deal with Iraq to exchange crude for refined products desperately needed by its western neighbour as a result of persistent insurgent sabotage.
The two countries' oil ministers -- Bijan Namdar Zanganeh for Iran and Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum for Iraq -- signed the deal as Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari wrapped up a landmark visit to the former foe, the Iranian oil ministry's Shana news agency reported.
The swap will require three new pipelines across the neighbours' southern border, which will be funded and built by Iran within 10 months, Zanganeh said on Monday.
"The idea is for Iran to buy 150,000 barrels per day of Basra light crude. In return, Iran will provide petrol, heating oil and kerosene," Zanganeh said, adding that the latter two products would come from Iranian refineries but that the petrol would have to be imported.
Iraq has faced chronic shortages of refined products ever since the US-led invasion of 2003, as insurgents have targeted its oil infrastructure, bringing production from the northern fields around Kirkuk to a virtual standstill.
Even though Iraq has the world's second largest proven reserves of crude, the government has been forced to import refined products from a number of neighbouring countries.