According to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, a teenager from the poor southern province of Anhui sold his kidney to pay for an Apple iPhone and iPad — and now he’s suffering from the potentially deadly effects of renal failure.
The 17-year old boy, identified in government-run news reports only by his surname “Wang,” confessed to the scheme when asked by his mother how he could afford the trendy gadgets from the Cupertino, Calif. company.
Prosecutors say Wang’s health will continue to decline unless he receives a kidney transplant himself — which is particularly difficult in Anhui. In China, roughly 1.5 million people are waiting in line to be one of the 10,000 transplant patients who receive a kidney each year.
Symptoms of renal failure include flank pain and seizures that result from the inability of the remaining kidney to effectively remove waste from the body. According to the National Institute of Health, death is a particularly common result of kidney failure that results from surgical procedures.
State news reported that Wang received approximately $3,489 for selling his kidney, while at least one defendant in the case pocketed over $35,000 for providing the organ on the black market. iPads cost at least $499 in the United States, and new iPhones fetch up to $629 off-contract.
Five people, including a surgeon and a broker reportedly dogged by gambling debts and financial difficulties, have been indicted and charged with intentional injury in the case.
Another individual charged was responsible for finding donors like Wang using Internet chat rooms.
In China, as well as countries like India, selling kidneys has become an all-too-common way for those living in poverty to support their family.
“Without facing complete hardship, these young people born after the 1990s made rash decisions,” said the editorial staff of the Communist Party newspaper Guangming Daily last month. “In the choice between their bodies and materialism, they resolutely chose the latter.”
China has recently promised to end its practice of harvesting the organs of executed prisoners during the next few years.