Authorities in the Chinese province Hunan have charged five people for illegally trading the kidney of a teenager who used his payment to buy an iPhone and iPad.
The tale of the teenage donor hit headlines last June around the time of Apple's iPad 2 launch in China.
The 17 year-old, who has only been identified by his surname, Wang, was allegedly paid $3400 (22,000 yuan) for his kidney, around 10 percent of the 220,000 yuan the five accused received for his organ, according to China’s official news agency, Xinhua.
The boy used his payment to buy the then highly-sought after iPad 2 and an iPhone. However, he now suffers from ‘renal insufficiency’, more commonly known as kidney failure, with his condition deteriorating.
Apple launched the iPad 2 in China last June, with some stores nearly facing riots as eager fans and scalpers lined up for openings, Xinhua reported at the time.
Similar scenes occurred at Apple's iPhone 4S launch in January this year at several stores in China.
The alleged instigator of the crime, He Wei, sought a kidney donor in an effort to recoup gambling related losses, according to Xinhua.
Wei is accused of contracting two middlemen, Yin Shen, to scan online chatrooms for a willing donor, and Tang Shimin to lease an operating room from a fourth person, Su Kaizong, a contractor at a urology department at an unnamed hospital.
The surgeon, Song Zhongyu, and the four other defendants allegedly received 220,000 yuan or about $33,000, splitting the the funds between themselves and other medical staff currently under investigation.
Xinhua notes there is a huge demand for organ transplants in China. While 1.5 million need transplants, only 10,000 are performed each year, leading to the nation's "thriving" illegal organ market.
China banned organisations and individuals from trading human organs in 2007 and has attempted to combat the growing trade by piloting a voluntary donation system in some provinces.