Gang sold organs in 1 m-yuan operation

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Four alleged organ traffickers, one of whom sold his own kidney for money, are awaiting their sentence after being tried at a Beijing court on Tuesday.

He Linxuan, 26, the ringleader, and his co-defendants, Ye Weihua, Zhen Dingliang and Si Zhenqiao, admitted making more than 1 million yuan from running an illegal business in 2008 and 2009. It is the second case involving illegal transplants that has been prosecuted in less than a week.

Judges at Chaoyang District People's Court heard that there was a clear division of labor among the four. He was in charge of contacting hospitals and Si cooked meals for the donors as they waited for their operations, while the others forged the necessary documents.

Zhen - at 23, he is the youngest suspect - earned 50,000 yuan by selling his kidney before joining the gang. Zhen said he and Ye were in charge of taking potential donors for health checks at various hospitals.

He Linxuan found potential donors through the Internet and then introduced them to patients in need of transplants, the court heard. He insisted the uremia patients he helped would not have survived without him. The lawyer representing He said his defendant was only an "agent" who introduced donors and patients.

Li Jia, the judge who tried the case, told China Daily that the suspects' defenses were not logical, as their behavior not only breaks the law but also goes against human morality. "They're not helping anyone. Human organs aren't merchandise. Profit-oriented trafficking like this is not only banned in China, but also not allowed globally," he said.

Last Thursday, two men appeared at Xicheng District People's Court for their involvement in organ trafficking.

The sale of human organs was banned in China in 2007. Under the law, only people who are related to a patient can donate organs, although organs can also be removed from suitable corpses and executed prisoners if consent forms are signed in advance.

The trafficking market is fueled largely by the fact that there are far more kidney disease patients than organ donors.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, there are 1.5 million people waiting for transplants every year. On average, just 10,000 operations are performed.

Zhen sold his kidney because he desperately needed money to pay his family's debt. Yet, he admitted he regrets the decision as he now easily feels tired, despite assurances from He Linxuan that the transplant would not affect his health.

The court will deliver a verdict at a later date.

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