BEIJING - A teenage high-school student in China sold his kidney for an illicit transplant operation and used the proceeds to buy an Apple iPhone and iPad, state press said on Friday.
The 17-year-old boy, who was paid 22,000 yuan ($3,500), was recruited from an online chatroom and is now suffering from kidney failure and in deteriorating health, the Xinhua news agency said.
A surgeon and four others have been arrested and are facing charges of illegal organ trading and intentional injury.
The kidney donor, only identified by his surname Wang, agreed to the April 2011 operation in the central province of Hunan without his parents consent, the report said.
One of those detained was a hard-up gambler identified as He Wei, who acted as a middle-man between a hospital worker and the teenager. He was paid 220,000 yuan.
Health ministry statistics show that about 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only around 10,000 transplants are performed annually.
The huge gap has led to a thriving illegal market for organs.
Executed prisoners remain the main source of organs used in transplant operations due to the lack of voluntary donations, Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu was quoted by state media as saying last month.
International human rights groups have long accused China of harvesting organs from executed prisoners for transplant without the consent of the prisoner or their family — charges the government has denied.