Poverty drove S. Balasubramaniam to try and sell one of his kidneys, his wife B. Angamma told The Hindu on Tuesday, a day after his arrest by Dharmapuri police in connection with a kidney racket.

Police had also arrested on Monday a tout, N.S. Ayyavu. Details provided by him led the police to Balasubramaniam and special teams are on the hunt for more touts and sellers.

Ms. Angamma said her husband came in contact with Ayyavu when he was working as an electrician with a mike-set and loudspeakers contractor in Salem.

Ayyavu had persuaded Balasubramaniam to donate his kidney by narrating the plight of a college teacher Ramesh of Udumalpet in Tirupur district, who suffered kidney failure two years ago.

Angamma, however, said she did not know of the price negotiated for the kidney. Preliminary inquiry by the police on Monday revealed that while the recipients were charged up to Rs.2.5 lakh a kidney, the person who sold it got Rs.1.5 lakh.

Angamma said Ayyavu and his wife came to their house at Maniambadi two years ago to persuade them to sell a kidney and also took them to the house of the college teacher.

Angamma also claimed that she and her husband agreed to give away a kidney after seeing the plight of the teacher and his wife. Angamma said she and her husband went to Madurai in search of a hospital for the transplantation but were not able to identify one. She was also instructed by the tout to claim before the State government’s approval committee for transplantation that the college teacher was her brother-in-law and that he was in need of a donor kidney, as there was a ban on taking kidneys from live unrelated donors. They approached the panel for sanction six months ago, but the appeal was rejected.

Angamma alleged that Ayyavu took their ration card and the Electors Photo Identity Cards two years ago and refused to return these after the government rejected the kidney donation request.

Without the family card, she could not get rice and other essential commodities from the public distribution system.

The family of four – with a son and daughter – were finding it difficult to survive.

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