How desperately can one want to buy an iPhone and an iPad? Apparently, desperately enough to sell their kidney in exchange. A Chinese teen, surnamed Wang, traded his kidney for the latest gadgets according to a report on Friday from China’s Xinhua news agency.
The 17-year-old high school student received 22,000 yuan (3,500 U.S. Dollars) in exchange for his kidney. He proceeded to buy the latest Apple gadgets with his earnings.
The kidney transplant was conducted in April. Five people suspected with having been involved in organizing the removal and transplant of the teenager’s kidney have been charged with intentional injury by prosecutors in the city of Chenzhou. These include the surgeon who carried out the whole procedure, a hospital contractor and brokers.
According to the state-run news site Xinhua, one of the defendants, He Wei, was penniless. Frustrated with debts accumulated from gambling, the man asked another of the defendants to look for donors and someone willing to lease an operating room for the transplant to take place, online. He received 220,000 yuan (35,000 U.S. Dollars) overall, of which the teen received a tenth only. The bulk of the money was shared between the other defendants and the medical staff involved.
Wang confessed to his mother about the kidney transplant, after she became suspicious about the pricey gadgets he had. He belongs to the Anhui province, considered among China’s poorest. And Apple’s products are certainly not all that cheap. An iPhone costs around 3,988 yuan ($633) and an iPad costs about 2,988 yuan ($474). That’s pretty unattainable for a teenager from a modest background, who eventually ended up risking his health and selling his kidney illegally to get his hands on the devices.
Wang obviously got the poor end of the deal too. Although he now has the gadgets he wanted so bad, his health is rapidly deteriorating. The teen is suffering from “renal insufficiency” – a decreased level of kidney function.
The whole case of someone willing to go to such extremes for a gadget is rather alarming for China. Increasing consumerism and materialism amongst young people is particularly worrisome. The official newspaper Guangming Daily said in an editorial last month, “Without facing complete hardship, these young people born after the 1990s made rash decisions. In the choice between their bodies and materialism, they resolutely chose the latter.”
Also alarming is the gap between demand and supply of organs. Statistics from the health ministry show that around 1.5 million people in China are waiting for transplants, whilst only 10,000 are performed in a year. This has led to a black-market for illegal organ transplant. It is sad to think that Wang may soon join the lists of people waiting for a kidney donor with chances of actually receiving one being bleak. Although one kidney in return for Apple’s coveted gadgets may seem like a fair trade at the moment, it will cease to seem so as Wang’s health is further ruined.
It is also sad that Wang traded his health for the ‘latest’ products. The new iPad will be available in China soon, and the iPhone 4S was released late last year with the iPhone 5 expected later this year.