Mystery of kidney 'lost' on night out

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 February, 2012, 12:00am


A migrant worker claims he awoke on Thursday night in Dongguan to find himself 20,000 yuan (HK$24,600) richer but minus one kidney.

The 28-year-old man from Chongqing told police he has no memory of what happened, only that he woke up in a small hotel in an industrial town on Thursday with the money in his pocket and a stitched incision on his stomach, Nanfang Daily reported yesterday.

Most media reports did not give the name of the man, but Guangzhou-based New Express identified him as Shu Zhen.

While doctors have confirmed the loss of Shu's left kidney, they have also raised doubts about his claim.

A statement by Machong township government yesterday said the wound was made five to seven days ago and doctors called the police because the man was reluctant to answer doctors' questions.

The man told police he arrived in Dongguan over a week ago to look for a job, the report said. He lost consciousness while drinking with friends in Wanjiang district on Sunday and came round in a hotel in Machong, New Express reported.

He had no idea where he was, how he was knocked out or 'the bloody torment' he had been through, only that he had excruciating internal pain. He went to the town's biggest medical facility, Machong Hospital, where doctors gave him an X-ray and saw the kidney was missing.

The hospital offered to call police but the man said he would rather wait for his relatives, rousing suspicions among the staff, a doctor told Nanfang Daily.

Another doctor in the emergency unit told the Sunday Morning Post that he suspected the man was lying.

He said that judging from the scar, the surgery must have been conducted by a highly professional team led by an experienced doctor.

'I am sure the kidney was taken out by a good pair of hands and I am sure it happened in a very big hospital. But I don't think they would do it on a mysteriously drugged donor,' he said. 'I suspect the victim, driven by the despair of unemployment and lured by money, sold his kidney.' The doctor said the patient could have regretted the deal, but would have known from the outset that selling a kidney was illegal.

An officer at Machong's police station said they had launched an investigation. The hospital isolated the man on a ward and several hospital security guards were stationed outside the ward's door yesterday.

A police officer was seen sitting next to man's bed and talking to him. The hospital refused yesterday to give further details about the man.

Mainland law states organs can be harvested from a healthy person only if the donor is a close relative or has an equivalent intimate relationship with the recipient.

But the chronic shortage of donor organs has spawned an underground trade. A court in Lanzhou , Gansu province, sentenced two kidney dealers to up to eight years in jail last year for encouraging minors to sell their kidneys.

In a court statement, the traders told the donors that removing one kidney would not affect their health.

The dealers also forged identification papers to suggest the donors were direct relatives of the recipients.

They arranged the transplants in one of the city's hospitals after each recipient paid more than 100,000 yuan. The donors got less than half of the fee. The hospital was fined 700,000 yuan for failing to verify the authenticity of identity documents.

'An illegal kidney transplant probably involves a very rich recipient, a very big hospital, a very famous doctor and some very cruel mafia members,' the Machong emergency doctor said.

'They will tear the donor apart if he fails to keep his mouth shut.'