POLICE and rights workers in Kampong Cham province have begun investigating the case of a villager who allegedly exchanged one of his daughter’s kidneys for a 2-hectare plot of farmland, after it was publicised in media reports on Sunday.
Phoung Sothea, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that the group had heard a Radio Free Asia report about the transaction, which allegedly took place in Ponhea Krek district, and was trying to contact the family said to be involved.
“We have discussed and cooperated with police officials to investigate this case because it is illegal and the perpetrator might face criminal charges,” he said.
Prak Bunnun, Ponhea Krek district police chief, said he visited the village after he was informed about the alleged kidney sale on Sunday evening, but had not been able to confirm any details.
“It is illegal to sell kidneys or any body parts because it is like human trafficking,” he said.
When contacted by The Post yesterday, Chea Sopheak, the 23-year-old woman at the centre of the story, said she donated the kidney to help her brother-in-law, who was unable to walk.
“I agreed to give it to my brother-in-law because I pitied him … and I think I have to help him while I can,” she said, and added that he gave her 2 hectares of rubber plantation land to express his gratitude to her.
“I didn’t know it was illegal, and I wouldn’t have done that if I knew it was illegal,” she said.
Chea Sopheak said she went to India to have the kidney transferred in November, and stayed there for six months. One of her neighbours has since agreed to sell one of her kidneys for US$10,000 to a buyer from Phnom Penh, she added, and departed for India for the operation on Tuesday.
Heng Taykry, secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, said it was not against the law to donate kidneys, providing no money changed hands.
“It is [an individual’s] right to donate or give the kidney to someone,” he said. “We don’t have regulations about these cases, but it is illegal if they sell [it].”