Four people in central China were detained on suspicion of being involved with organ trading after a dead patient’s eyes were taken as his body lay in a hospital mortuary, Chinese media reported. The man died of organ failure on Tuesday morning at Ningxiang People’s Hospital in Hunan province. When his sister viewed him later that day, she found his eyes were missing, Chongqing-based news portal Cqcb.com said. “A cotton ball was put in the left eye, while a surgical tool used to expand the eye socket was in the right. His eyeballs were taken away,” the woman wrote on social media platform WeChat. “I feel so sad. It’s too gruesome.” By Wednesday, a 30-strong team of police officers had detained four people for alleged theft and defiling a corpse, the report said. Some of them were mortuary employees. China tells Vatican it saved 100 organ trafficking victims It’s possible that [the suspects] colluded to sell organs Police source Three of the suspects fled to Shaoyang, about 240km (150 miles) from Ningxiang, after removing the deceased’s eyes, police were quoted as saying. “Initial investigations showed that it’s possible that they colluded to sell organs,” a police source said. The hospital has started negotiations with the family of the deceased over compensation, according to the report. There are 300,000 patients waiting for transplants every year on the mainland, while only 10,000 are carried out because of a shortage of suitable organs, People’s Daily reported last year. China ended its practice of harvesting organs from executed criminals in 2014, leaving donations as the sole source for transplants. In 2015, 2,776 people across China donated organs after their death. This rose to 4,080 in 2016 and 5,135 last year. Four years ago, the No 1 Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing jailed 15 people in the country’s largest human organ trafficking case for terms of between three and 12 years, Beijing Youth Daily reported. Chinese scientists at heart of organ transplant conference From June 2010 to the end of that year, 51 people sold their kidneys at between 20,000 yuan (US$2,870) and 25,000 yuan each, the court heard. More than 10 million yuan in profits were made by the group.