Today my husband told me there was a documentary about kidney donation on TV. I watched it and it was riveting. It’s called “The Market” and follows two parallel stories. There is the story in India, of poor women who sell their kidneys to make money to pay their debts. And there is the story of a woman on dialysis in British Columbia who is waiting for a kidney transplant. Her family is encouraging her to think of going to India, to buy a kidney to be transplanted. The stories come together as the woman from Canada goes with her family to talk to women in India who have sold their kidneys.
I am still processing this documentary. I watched with grim fascination as these Indian women tried to help their families by selling a piece of their body, and the emotional and physical pain they suffered. What kind of a world do we live in, where people need to sell organs to send their children to school? And I watched this from the context of being a rich person, in a rich country, who is freely making the decision to donate. My donation is entirely divorced from money; I have that luxury, a luxury that those women can only dream of.
And I was very moved by the story of the woman from British Columbia, whose peritoneal dialysis is so intensive and time-consuming. She and her family live with the insecurity of poor health, and the realistic fear that this type of dialysis will someday fail and she will die. Getting a kidney donation is the key to a new life for her.
Seeing this documentary has opened up the bigger picture for me about how kidney donation plays out around our world, and how financial inequality skews the system in favour of us, the rich nations. It also gave me a bit of a peek into life on dialysis. It solidifies even further my decision to be a kidney donor.
This 2011 documentary is directed by Canadian Rama Rau, and you can watch it here: