A teenage boy who sold his kidney to buy Apple products was too weak to attend the trial of the group who allegedly harvested his organ last year, the state-run China Daily reports.
In April 2011, Wang Shangkun's mother discovered that her then 17-year-old son had sold his kidney and had bought an iPad and iPhone with the money. Now 18, Wang suffers from a decreased level of kidney function, according to NPR.
China Daily notes that due to his health, Wang was unable to appear in court, but his mother was quoted as saying her son did not, in fact, sell the organ specifically to buy new gadgets.
Wang's family lives in Anhui province, a poor region in central China, where inhabitants frequently leave home to find better work, according to Reuters.
Apple products, which are often manufactured in huge complexes in China are still generally too expensive for members of the country's working class, the New York Times notes.
The five defendants on trial are charged with intentional injury and illegal organ trading, and if convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison. Four others who are suspected of playing smaller roles in the alleged crime could face fines, according to China Daily.
Citing court documents, Xinhua reports that Wang first made contact with the alleged harvesters through Internet chat rooms. He Wei, reportedly the leader of the gang, then made arrangements to hire a surgeon who worked at a nearby military hospital. He Wei walked away with 220,000 yuan, or close to $35,000. Wang received the equivalent of about $3,500 for his kidney. The rest of the money was divided up among the gang.
A woman at the Beihu district people's court confirmed to the Telegraph that the trial was still going on.
Also according to the Telegraph, the Changsha Evening News reported that Wang may seek financial compensation from the defendants as well.
China suffers from a constant shortage of healthy organs.
For years the country has depended on organs harvested from death row inmates, despite the continued protests of human rights groups. In March, China's health ministry announced it would phase out the practice over the next five years.
The Wall Street Journal estimates that 1.5 million people in China are in need of organ transplants each year. However, only 10,000 receive them.
Earlier this year, Colombia police <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/drug-smuggling-pigeon_n_811044.html" target="_hplink">captured</a> a carrier pigeon trying to fly into a Bucarmanga jail with marijuana and cocaine paste strapped to its back. Carrying a package with 40 grams of marijuana and 5 grams of a paste containing cocaine, the bird -- which police believe had been trained by inmates or accomplices -- appeared to be unable to successfully clear the prison walls.
In 2009, Spanish police<a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-03-06/justice/spain.leg.cast_1_cocaine-police-leg?_s=PM:CRIME" target="_hplink"> arrested</a> a man arriving at Barcelona's airport from Chile after determining that the cast on his fractured left leg was made of cocaine, CNN reported. The 66-year-old man had an actual fracture of two bones below the knee, but the police suspect that he, or accomplices, may have intentionally fractured it, so that the cocaine cast could be applied.
Perhaps they should call it a case of "Merry-Juana." A German man <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/marijuana-christmas-tree-_n_793946.html" target="_hplink">faced</a> drug possession charges after local police discovered a six-foot-tall marijuana plant in his home that had been decorated with twinkling Christmas lights in late 2010.
In 2006, CNN <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2006-02-01/world/drug.pups_1_heroin-seizures-puppies-dea-spokesman-rusty-payne?_s=PM:WORLD" target="_hplink">reported</a> that a two-year investigation into a Colombian heroin ring netted more than 65 pounds of drugs, resulted in the arrests of more than 20 people and saved the lives of some drug-smuggling Labrador retrievers. Ten wayward pups were found during a raid on a Colombian farm in 2005, and six of them were carrying more than 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of liquid heroin in their stomachs.
In 2009, the Mexican navy <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-06-17/world/mexico.drug.sharks_1_mexican-navy-cocaine-frozen?_s=PM:WORLD" target="_hplink">smelled</a> something fishy the southeastern port of Progreso, and their intuition paid off. When the inspectors zeroed in on a shipment of sharks, they found black bags containing rectangular packets filled with cocaine inside the frozen fish.
In 2006, a 25-year-old Australian woman was <a href="http://uneasysilence.com/archive/2006/06/6833/" target="_hplink">charged</a> with attempting to smuggle heroin into the country a week after she was found to be carrying 329 drug-filled condoms in her stomach. The woman was intercepted on suspicion she was carrying drugs internally by customs officers at Sydney airport as she came off a flight from Singapore.
In 2008, former England cricket player Chris Lewis was <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/09/chris-lewis-cocaine-drugs" target="_hplink">charged</a> with attempting to smuggle cocaine with a street value of more than 200,000 pounds into Britain. The 40-year-old was arrested along with an alleged accomplice on Dec. 8, 2008 after border control officers at London's Gatwick airport found four kilograms (nine pounds) of the illegal drug in liquid form in fruit tins in a baggage that had arrived from the Caribbean island of St Lucia.
In 2006, Texas police <a href="http://www.clickorlando.com/news/9514444/detail.html" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> found about 168 grams of cocaine inside a can of Pringles. The cocaine was ingeniously made to look like the actual Pringles crisps.
In 1993, drug enforcement agents at Miami's airport<a href="http://www.elistmania.com/juice/10_creative_drug_smuggling_schemes/" target="_hplink"> reportedly</a> seized nearly 36 kilograms of cocaine wrapped in condoms and stuffed in Boa constrictors. The snakes had been imported from South America, and were still alive when they were found. There were over 312 snakes about 1.5 meters in length. The cocaine was actually found by mistake when one of the snakes appeared to have an abnormal bulge.