He emerged from his room in a red T-shirt and blue denim on Sunday, August 3, 2014 in a state of despair and sober reflection.
Slowly settling down in a white plastic chair in the hotel lobby where he had agreed to speak with our correspondent, he told a rather unusual story of his ordeal in the hands of his close friend who lured him into selling one of his kidneys for just $7,500 (N1.2m).
When I was tricked into selling my kidney for money, it was even a close friend of mine that introduced me into the trade. And I did not doubt him for a second. I wanted my life to change positively. I did not know he would eventually betray me due to the trust I had in him. Things were a bit tough for me then and I was desperate to make a change in my life.
“Sola was looking for someone to donate a kidney to a person, and since I had been living in penury, I decided to take a chance. I thought it was a little issue. He told me the huge amount of money that was usually paid to donors. I told him I would do it.
“The client I was to sell my kidney to was in Port Harcourt at that time, so I travelled there and was lodged in a hotel, the name of which I cannot remember now. The following day, I was taken to the General Hospital in the city for medical tests.”
To be tested by the doctors in the General Hospital, Port Harcourt, Martins said he had to pretend as if he was a relative of the patient, and that he did it ‘gladly.’ All he was hoping for was the money.
I had to pretend as if I was a family member of the client who needed my kidney so doctors could allow me undergo the tests.“I was made to undergo different medical tests ranging from HIV, to blood group, and whether my kidney matched with that of the sick.
“That was just the beginning, and everything seemed to work perfect. I was made to understand that assuming I had any disease like gonorrhoea or others, I would be treated here before I travelled out of the country, as far as my kidney matched with the sick’s.“The second stage was the processing of visa and other travelling documents for me. The agent was to take care of all this. My own responsibility as the donor was just to obey all their commands.
To process the visa, I took pictures with the family of the patient, which made the officials at the embassy believe I was really a relative of the client. I was also made to bear the name of the family of the client so that there would be no suspicion by the officials at the embassy.”Meanwhile, as all these were going on, I never knew that negotiations between the client and the agent were also ongoing, I was just obeying
their bidding; at least I thought my friend could be trusted.
“Before we travelled and because everything seemed to be working according to plan, my agent told me I had to get new clothes to travel with to India, so I borrowed some money from them, to be repaid from the money they would pay me.
“Normally, the client would not pay the agent the money until the day of travelling and the agent would not pay the donor until he was sure the operation was successful.
“I never knew all these until I experienced it. My friend was the agent and that was why I did not bother asking for the money before I travelled to India.“On the day I was to travel with the family of the patient, we were lodged in a hotel in
the Ketu area of Lagos. We got to the airport around 5am and I was thinking all through the journey. I was hoping my life would be better if everything was
MIOT Hospitals in Chennai, India was the destination. Everything had worked very well in Nigeria, but that was just the first step.
Martins continued, “We got to the hospital and we were lodged there. The following day, I began another series of medical tests. The medical personnel, who attended to me there, Doctor Tashir, sat me down and asked who I was to the patient.
“I told the doctor she was my niece. He asked me if I knew the consequence of what I was about to do, and I told him there was no problem. For the next one and a half months, I underwent another series of medical tests. The doctors at the hospital trashed the ones I did in Nigeria.
“While in the hospital, I was just not comfortable with the way things were going. I wanted to be sure if the money I was expecting to do this would really come, so I decided to call my friend who arranged the whole thing how much I was going to be paid.
“But before I called my friend, I called the client to find out how much he paid my friend. He (the client) was in Nigeria; it was only the lady, her mother, and me who were in India. He told me he had paid them on the day we travelled to India, and that was where the trouble began.I called the agent (my friend) and asked him why he did not tell me the client had paid him.My friend (the agent) had even seized my phone to act as a collateral in case I failed to come back to the country after the operation. When I heard he had been paid, I had to remind him that it was my life I was playing with, and he assured he would pay me once I returned to the country.
The last stage after the medical tests was that I was taken to their local council to face a panel. They asked me again if I was ready for the operation that would last for 27 hours, and to know if I was ready for death in case it came. To all these I said yes“Unfortunately, the patient’s mother started treating me unfairly. She believed I had been paid. At a point, I had to tell my friend that I would not do it again if I was not paid. I even told him to go and give the money to my mother, though she did not know anything about it. But he kept assuring me the money was safe.”
After the removal of my kidney, I called the agent again to tell him to send me some money for my flight home. That was when I knew I had been used and dumped.
“He changed the tone of his voice and told me to stay in India. He started asking me what I was coming to do in Nigeria. I had planned to use the N900,000 to buy a bus for transport business here in Lagos, to start life afresh. That had been my thought all along.
“On December 2, 2008, after about three months of being in India and 10 days after the operation, I said I was going home. With no money and no good treatment from the patient’s mother, I was stranded. Even though I had the opportunity of stealing their dollar notes in their wardrobe, I did not do so. I could never do such a thing. I felt pity for the lady.
On December 3, 2008, Martins eventually got a ticket to be flown to Nigeria and could not believe that he had been made to pass through the horrible situation for nothing.
He said, “I tried all I could, and from the money I had borrowed before leaving, I came back to Nigeria.
“My parents never knew where I went and stayed for almost three months. Things were really pathetic. I met a lot of problems at home which I hoped I could solve with the money I would get. On this same matter, I lost my elder sister who was pregnant because it was her money that I took from home, hoping that I would settle her when I return.“The baby died, she too died, my world collapsed. Out of the N900,000 I was expecting, my friend paid me only N250,000. That was after I had threatened him. I could not involve the police because I knew it was one of those hard choices I made. That was how I was duped in the process of selling my kidney.”
From the amount he could collect from his agent, Martins was able to set up a football viewing centre, which has since collapsed.
Culled from Punch