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‘Kidney for an iPad’ trial begins in China as five face court over illegal trade in human organs

Five people are facing trial in China for illegal organ trading and intentional injury after a student sold his kidney to buy an iPad and iPhone. The 17-year-old nearly died after the operation to remove one of his vital organs, which he reportedly sold for the equivalent of around £1,900. 

 The defendants include the surgeon who removed the kidney from the teenager in the central province of Hunan. The student’s mother raised the alarm after she became suspicious about where he had got the money for his new gadgets. He eventually admitted to selling his kidney. If found guilty, the defendants face up to 10 years in prison according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. 

The teenager suffered renal failure after the transplant, and was said to be too ill to attend the hearing. Identified only as Wang, prosecutors say the young man was recruited in an online chat room. 

They accused one of the defendants, He Wei, of arranging the illegal kidney transplant last April in order to pay his gambling debts, the BBC reports. Official statistics show that more than a million people in China need a transplant every year The group is said to have received around $35,000 (£22,000) for the transplant, while the student was reportedly given about $3,000 for his kidney, roughly £1,900. 

He nearly died after suffering renal failure following the operation and is said to still be in poor health. Mr He has denied the charges, and told judges that the teenager had been willing to undergo the surgery. Four others who are accused of having a minor involvement in the case also face fines. 

 Apple products are extremely popular in China, but are too expensive for many. IPhones start at around 3,988 yuan (£400), and iPads begin at 2,988 yuan – just under £190. The country faces a constant shortage of organ donors.

 The organ industry in China is booming and trading organs is a widespread online practice in the country. Official figures from the health ministry show that about 1.5 million people need transplants, but only 10,000 are performed annually, driving a lucrative black market trade. Few Chinese agree to donate their organs after death, fuelling the rampant llegal market activity.

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