The clandestine pre-dawn operation in a small private hospital ended with the man and wife being dumped semiconscious in taxis - the payment for their kidneys tucked into their clothes, they say.
Now, a year later, penniless once more, they are too weak to even move around their apartment. Unable to afford follow-up care, their health is so fragile they spend much of the day in bed in a dark room.
"If anyone had made clear to me the danger, I wouldn't have done it," said Abdel-Rahman Abdel-Aziz, gaunt and looking older than his 24 years as he lay in bed beside his wife. He pulled up his sweatshirt to show the scar from the operation.
For years, word has spread among Egypt's destitute that selling a kidney - sometimes for as little as $2,000 - can be a quick way out of a debt or to keep from sinking deeper into poverty. At rundown cafes, they are hunted by middlemen working for labs that match donors and recipients, many of whom are foreigners drawn to Egypt's thriving, underground organ trade.
Egypt is one of a half dozen countries identified by the World Health Organization as organ-trafficking hot spots. Under international pressure, other trouble spots like China, Pakistan and the Philippines have outlawed organ sales and barred foreigners from undergoing transplants to stop "transplant tourism."