CHANGSHA, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Five people in south China face charges of illegal trading of a kidney from a teenager who bought an iPhone and an iPad with the earnings, local authorities said Friday.
The five, including a surgeon, were charged with intentional injury, the people's procuratorate in Chenzhou city in Hunan province said in a statement.
Defendant He Wei, who was penniless and frustrated over gambling debts, sought to make enormous earnings through illegal kidney trading, according to the agency.
He asked Yin Shen to look for donors through online chat rooms and Tang Shimin to lease an operating room from Su Kaizong, the contractor of a local hospital's urology department, it stated.
Song Zhongyu, a surgeon from a provincial hospital in Yunnan province, conducted the kidney transplant from a 17-year-old high school student from Anhui province, surnamed Wang, to a recipient in April last year.
He received about 220,000 yuan (35,000 U.S. dollars) for the activity and gave Wang 22,000 yuan. He, the other four defendants and several other medical staff involved in the transplant shared the remaining earnings.
After returning home, Wang confessed to his mother that he sold one of his kidneys when questioned how he got money for a new iPhone and iPad.
Wang now suffers from renal insufficiency and his condition is deteriorating.
Several other suspects involved in the case are still being investigated.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that about 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only around 10,000 transplants are performed annually. The huge gap has led to a thriving illegal market for organs.
In 2007, the Chinese government issued its first regulations on human organ transplants, banning organizations and individuals from trading human organs in any form. To help combat the illegal trade, the government has piloted a voluntary donation system in 16 of the Chinese mainland's 31 provincial-level regions.