The trial of five people accused of orchestrating the removal and sale of a teenager’s kidney so he could buy an iPhone and an iPad has kicked off in a court in the central Chinese province of Hunan. Prosecutors have charged them with illegal organ trading and intentional injury.
Five defendants, including the surgeon who removed the 17-year-old’s kidney, face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Four others accused of being involved to lesser degrees face fines. The student, identified by the court as Wang, was too ill to attend the hearing, following renal failure linked to the transplant, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported.
It was revealed earlier this year that the group enlisted Wang to participate in the scheme after meeting him in an online chatroom. The transplant, which is said to have taken place in 2011, was allegedly planned by a defendant named He Wei, who prosecutors described as having been "penniless and frustrated over gambling debts."
Wei hatched the scheme to repay his debts, "seeking financial gain via the illegal kidney trade,” prosecutors said. Song Zhongyu, a surgeon from a hospital in Yunan Province, performed the removal of Wang’s kidney and the subsequent transplant of the organ.
The defendants are said to have charged $35,000 (£22,000) for the transplant, while Wang was paid $3,000 (£1,900) for his kidney.
Wei has denied the charges, insisting that the teenager had been willing to donate the organ.
The transplant was uncovered when Wang trotted home with his new gadgets in hand and was questioned by his mother, according to Xinhua. His attorney has asked for compensation of 2.27 million yuan (£229,000) on the teenager’s behalf.