Sixteen people have been charged with organising the sale of 51 human kidneys for more than 10 million yuan (HK$12.3 million) in the mainland's biggest organ trading case.
The suspects include agents who solicited donors in online chat rooms and doctors and nurses in Anhui and Jiangsu who went to Beijing to harvest kidneys, the Procuratorate Daily's jcrb.com website quoted unnamed prosecutors from Beijing's Haidian district as saying.
Mainland law allows organ donations from the living only when the donor is a close relative or intimate partner of the recipient.
But a chronic shortage of donor organs has spawned an underground trade, with some people forging identity papers to bypass the law.
Last Thursday, a 28-year-old migrant worker in Dongguan claimed he woke up to find himself 20,000 yuan richer but missing one kidney. He confessed to his father on Tuesday that he had actually sold it voluntarily, cqnews.net reports. His case is not related to the Beijing case.
Zheng Wei, who charged 10,000 yuan to introduce donors to patients, started organising the Beijing trade in early 2010 by paying doctors at county-level hospitals to harvest organs and then selling them.
Zheng paid a donor 25,000 yuan for a kidney and paid the medical team another 25,000 yuan before selling the kidney for 220,000 yuan.
One of the donors, a high school dropout from Inner Mongolia , had a dispute with his family over money and threatened to sell a kidney. He searched Zheng out online and took a train to Beijing.
The man was taken to a rented apartment where he found many donors waiting for a match. He was taken to a hospital for a check-up and later sold his kidney for 25,000 yuan.
The gang harvested 51 kidneys, paying 20,000 to 25,000 yuan for each one. The report did not mention where the kidneys went or whether any transplant surgeons have been implicated in the case.
The organs used to be harvested at hospitals in Xiao county, Anhui, or Tongshan county, Jiangsu, but after three kidneys were damaged in a traffic accident in June 2010, Zheng rented a villa and spent 500,000 yuan turning it into an operating theatre.
'When I first came to the villa the nurses were not in uniform and the environment was dirty. It was only after I arrived that Zheng Wei bought the necessary drugs,' a nurse said.
The doctors were flown in early in the morning, harvested three to six kidneys, and left Beijing at night, the report said. Police busted the ring in December.