Chinese man wakes up - minus his kidney
BEIJING – Until recently 26-year-old Hu Jie led a life similar to millions of other young Chinese migrant workers. With little formal education, he worked as a welder in the manufacturing center of Panyu, a city in China’s southern province of Guangdong. He made $400 a month.
But last October Hu became addicted to poker, gambling with friends, and soon lost almost $3,000. Under pressure from his creditors to pay back the high-interest debt, Hu came up with an idea of how he could get money quickly: sell his kidney.
The initial process was fairly easy: He searched online, found dozens of middlemen in China’s shady “organ transplant business” and decided to contact one of them who seemed trustworthy.
Later that month he met with a middleman in eastern Shandong province, more than 1,000 miles away from his home. In a hotel Hu saw not only the middleman, but also a few other young men who also desperately needed cash and were ready to sell their kidneys. They were each offered $6,000 for one kidney.
Hu passed an initial medical exam and his information was soon posted online for buyers to match.
But then he suddenly became seized by terror at the thought of losing an organ. So he ran away – back to Guangdong.
Not so fast
In the following months the middleman continued to call him and scold him for running away. Pressured by the middlemen’s constant calls and his own thirst for cash, Hu made up his mind to go to Shanxi province to meet the prospective buyer, a patient suffering from kidney failure, as well as another middleman.
The second middleman turned out to be a young man who had just sold his kidney two months earlier. During the days they spent together Hu saw him constantly moaning in pain. Terrified by seeing the horrendous aftermath, Hu says he told the middlemen he didn’t want to go through with the surgery.
When Hu Jie woke up from the anesthesia, everyone was gone except for a nurse. Also missing was his left kidney. All that was left behind was a long scar on his left abdomen and $4,000 in his bank account. (The middlemen stiffed him and took the additional $2,000 he was initially offered for the kidney).
He later learned that the patient had paid $47,000 for the transplant. And when he tried to contact the middlemen again, he found their cell phones turned off.
“It was my fault too, why did I go?” Hu said in an interview with NBC News. “I was still working on that morning and I was forced to the surgery room in the afternoon. I regretted and cried but I was weak."
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