Back in 2011, a Chinese teenager sold one of his kidneys so he could buy the latest Apple device. The then-17-year-old Wang Shangkun peddled the organ on the black market for the equivalent of about $4,500 AUD [$3,273 USD], before using the money to purchase an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4. “Why do I need a second kidney?” Wang said at the time, according to The Epoch Times. “One is enough.”
Tragically, the 25-year-old is now attached to a dialysis machine and is likely to be bedridden for life after suffering renal deficiency.
Shortly after selling his right kidney, Wang—who comes from the province of Anhui—told China Network Television that he had wanted to buy an iPad 2 but didn’t have enough money. He was then later approached by an organ harvester in an online chat room.
“When I was on the Internet, I had a kidney agent send a message, saying that selling a kidney can give me 20,000 [yuan],” he said. Shortly thereafter, Wang underwent illegal surgery in the central Hunan province to have his right kidney removed and delivered to an unknown recipient. It wasn’t until he’d returned home with his expensive new Apple devices that his mother grew suspicious and forced him to confess, NPR reports. Nine people involved in the operation were arrested, and five have since been charged with intentional injury and organ trading.
Within months, Wang developed an infection in his remaining kidney—with the unsanitary location of the operation and the lack of post-operative care thought to be the cause—and ultimately suffered organ failure. Now his condition is so severe that he’s been rendered bedridden, and requires daily dialysis to clear his blood of the toxins that his remaining kidney can no longer handle.
Doctors have said that Wang could now probably use a transplant of his own, according to Gizmodo. But Gizmodo also claims that human kidneys can fetch as much as $366,000 AUD on the black market—more than 80 times what Wang got for his.
China banned the trading of human organs in 2007, but a gap between the number of people needing transplants and the number of donors has fed an enormous black market.