Five people in southern China have been charged with intentional injury surrounding the case of a 17-year-old Chinese boy who sold a kidney so he could purchase an iPhone and iPad last April.
The teen, identified in reports by his surname Wang, reportedly suffers from renal insufficiency — a condition where kidney function continues to gradually decline.
According to the Xinhua News Agency account on Friday, one defendant received about 220,000 yuan (or $35,000 USD) to arrange the transplant and then paid Wang 22,000 yuan and split the rest with the surgeon being charged along with three other defendants and medical staff.
“I wanted to buy an iPad 2 but could not afford it,” said the boy. “A broker contacted me on the Internet and said he could help me sell one kidney for 20,000 yuan.”
"On April 28th, the boy went to Chenzhou City in neighboring Hunan Province for the kidney removal surgery arranged by the broker. He was paid 22,000 yuan (an extra 2,000) or $3,400 USD after his right kidney was taken out at Chenzhou’s famous No. 198 Hospital."
The boy's mother learned of her son's tragic transaction after seeing the new iPhone and iPad in his possession. When confronted, Wang admitted to selling a kidney to obtain the devices. The teen is from one of China's poorest provinces, Anhui, an area that frequently sees many residents leaving the area to find work and a much better life elsewhere.
Apple products in China are priced well above the reach of many Chinese — with iPhones starting at 3,988 yuan ($633 USD), and iPads sold at 2,988 yuan ($474 USD).
Ministry of Health statistics show that approximately 1.5 million people in China require transplants, while only 10,000 transplants take place annually. Even though China banned the trading of human organs in 2007 — the huge need for transplants continues to drive a thriving illegal market for organs.
The Xinhua report did not identify who received and paid for the boy's harvested kidney. Several other suspects involved in this case are still being investigated.