Fifteen people, including doctors, involved in an underground organ trading scheme were sentenced to prison by a Beijing court after it was revealed that the group had harvested and sold 51 kidneys, making it the largest case of its kind in recent mainland history.
The head of the group, 46-year-old Zheng Wei, was given 12 years in prison by the No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court this past Wednesday, SCMP reports, citing Beijing Times. The 14 other members received between 3-1/2 years and nine years on charges of coercing people into selling their organs.
From 2010 to 2012 the group harvested kidneys from people willing to have one of their vital organs cut out in exchange for 21,000 yuan (HK$26,400) to 25,000 yuan.
They transported the kidneys to a major Beijing hospital. Clients would allegedly pay more than 200,000 yuan to Zheng.
The hospital’s name was not disclosed by the court and it was unclear if the institution would be liable.
The group included three doctors hired by Zheng from small public hospitals in Xuzhou , Jiangsu province, who were engaged in removing kidneys from “suppliers”.
Operations were performed in a community health center and later in a four-story house located in Beijing’s Haidian district. The underground hospital included an operation room, observation room, a dormitory and a drug warehouse.
Around 10,000 patients on a 1.5 million-person waiting list receive transplants each year in China. Only 169 hospitals in the country are qualified for organ transplantation.