Beijing authorities have busted a kidney trafficking ring whose members included doctors, in what is said to be the country's largest such case.
The 15 gang members who were active in the black market organ trade have been sentenced to varying jail time by a Beijing court for harvesting and selling 51 kidneys, reported South China Morning Post.
The group's mastermind, Zheng Wei, 46, was sentenced to 12 years in jail by the No. 1 Intermediate People's Court last Wednesday while 14 other members received terms of between 3½ years and nine years, the Beijing Times reported.
They were charged with coercing people into selling their organs.
Anhui Province native Zheng met a man identified only as Dr Ye, director of the urology department of a hospital in Beijing, at the end of 2009.
Shanghai Daily reported that Dr Ye told Zheng that his department would lose its licence to perform kidney transplants because they had not been doing very many such operations, according to the report.
The two agreed to work together to find patients who needed kidney transplants and people willing to donate a kidney, the court heard.
The duo also found others to join the scheme. Doctors were paid 1,700 yuan (S$345) to 2,500 yuan for each kidney operation, the report said.
From 2010 to 2012, the group harvested kidneys from volunteer donors, who were paid 21,000 yuan to 25,000 yuan.
The organs were kept on ice in disguised "seafood boxes" and transported 800km from Xuzhou to Beijing, where the transplants were done at an unidentified "top hospital", NBC News reported. It is not clear if the institution would be liable.
The group included three doctors hired by Zheng from small public hospitals in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, who would remove kidneys from the donors.
The gang members would look for potential donors and clients through social media, take them for physical examinations and take care of donors after their kidneys had been removed.
Statistics from the country's health authority show that more than 10,000 organ transplants are performed each year, but 1.5 million patients remain on the waiting list.
This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
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