A six-year-old boy in China had his eyes gouged out in a gruesome attack that may have blinded him for life.
The boy, named Binbin, was a native of Linfen city in the mainland's Shanxi province, Xinhua reported. According to his mother, he had gone missing while playing outside his house on the afternoon of 24 August. He was later found covered in blood by family members some three to four hours later.
“He had blood all over his face. His eyelids were turned inside out. And inside, his eyeballs were not there,” his devastated father told Shanxi Television reporters.
The child’s eyes were found nearby but the corneas were missing, early reports said, implying that an organ trafficker may have been behind the harrowing attack.
New details revealed by Shanxi authorities have said that these missing cornea reports are incorrect, however, potentially ruling out the possibility of organ traffickers.
No further information has leaked, but police have offered a 100,000 yuan (HK$126,707) reward for information leading to the arrest of the case's sole suspect.
Original reports indicated that the kidnapper was male, but new details, including a testimony from Binbin, have revealed that the suspect is female. Binbin said that she threatened him and had an accent, a sign that she was likely from another province.
"Don't cry. Don't cry and I won't gouge out your eyes," the kidnapper alledgedly said.
Binbin was drugged and “lost consciousness” before the attacker removed his eyes, state broadcaster China Central Television said on its account on Sina Weibo, China’s foremost online social network.
News of the attack on the boy - who had a cleft palate - instigated outrage from hundreds of Weibo netizens.
“This is extraordinarily vicious,” said one Sina Weibo user. “How and why could someone be so cruel?”
“A truly tragic boy,” said another poster.
Professor Arthur Caplan, a spokesman for Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting who was interviewed by the UK-based Daily Mail for his view on the story, did not rule out the possibility of organ trafficking, saying that Binbin's situation was horrific but unfortunately not surprising.
"In-demand corneas for corrective eyesight operations can be taken from any age and body type," Caplan reportedly said. "Anyone who knows where the corneas are located in the eye can extract them, and I fear for the unsterile conditions and the barbaric methods used, and that infection may add to [Binbin's] suffering."
Binbin is currently still recovering in a Shanxi orthoptic hospital. His is the latest case in a series of organ removal incidents that have occured throughout China, including a mid-August crackdown on a group of black market organ sellers in Wuhan and several cases where teenagers sold their kidneys in illicit transplant operations, using the proceeds to buy iPhones and iPads.