Selling a kidney for an iPhone sounds like the perfect premise for a joke, and we have all seen funny memes depicting the same on social media, especially recently with the launch of the iPhone 11. While most of us would laugh at the ludicrous idea, one Chinese man took it seriously and actually implemented it! Back in 2011, 17-year-old Wang Shangkun sold his kidney on the black market and used the money to buy an iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Now, eight years later, the 25-year-old man regrets his naïve decision. His remaining kidney failed and he is reportedly bedridden.
The story of high school student Wang Shangkun made headlines back in 2011 when he decided to sell one of his kidneys to buy Apple products.
Wang Shangkun comes from eastern Anhui Province, which is one of the poorest sections of China. As a 17-year-old, high school student, buying an iPhone and showing it off to his friends meant a great deal to the young boy. However, his cash-strapped parents could not afford to buy it. His desperate attempt at looking trendy led him down a dark path. While browsing the Internet, Wang Shangkun was contacted by three men who promised to help him fulfill his dream. They communicated via QQ, a popular online-chatting platform in China.
A deal was struck – Shangkun would sell his kidney to the black market and receive the money to buy the Apple products that he long desired. The whole thing was kept under wraps, and even his parents did not know. In April of 2011 on the day of the surgery, Shangkun traveled to the city of Chenzhou, which is located in southern Hunan Province in China. He kept his travel plans a secret, and upon arrival, the middlemen took him to a nearby medical facility where he met two surgeons, one nurse, and one surgeon’s assistant.
The complicated surgery took place at a shady, uncertified clinic, and Shangkun’s left kidney was removed. He was paid 22,000 RMB (approximately $3,000) for the kidney. Soon after his surgery, Shangkun went into renal failure.
After reaching the designated place, the middlemen took Shangkun to an uncertified underground clinic. The two surgeons, nurse, and the assistant worked at local hospitals, but they also did illegal organ-harvesting on the side. A complicated surgery was performed to remove his left kidney, which was then sold illegally to a patient who paid 150,000 RMB in exchange for the organ. The middlemen kept most of the money for themselves and gave only 22,000 to Shangkun, who immediately bought an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4 before going back to his hometown.
When the news broke out, Shangkun was quoted saying “Why do I need a second kidney? One is enough.” Little did he know how much he would come to regret those words. Soon after the surgery, he developed renal deficiency. The unsanitary setting of the clinic where the surgery took place, combined with a lack of proper, post-operative care led to an infection, which caused his other kidney to fail as well. Today, 25-year-old Wang Shangkun is suffering from kidney failure. Completely bedridden, he is unable to work or take care of himself. He also needs regular dialysis.
Wang Shangkun’s mother reported the incident to the police after she found out. The middlemen and the medical professionals were charged.
After seeing her son with the expensive Apple gadgets, Shangkun’s mother enquired about where he got the money. To her shock, he said that he had sold one of his kidneys. She called the police and reported the incident. In April of 2012, a total of nine people including the three middlemen and the two doctors were charged with illegal organ trading and intentional injury by the public defenders of Chenzhou City.
At the trial, Wang Shangkun was too weak to appear in front of the court. However, he won the case and his family was awarded a compensation of 1.47 million RMB. The middlemen were sentenced to three to five years in prison. The doctors, on the other hand, received a three-year sentence each.
Despite winning the case, Wang Shangkun’s life has gone significantly downhill since then.
The once tall and good-looking young boy now lies in bed day in and day out. He is completely dependent on his family to take care of him. Due to his health, he is unable to work and lives off of social benefits. Because of one careless decision, his whole life was turned upside down and he lost his shot to have a normal future.
Shangkun’s story might be extreme, but it paints a picture of the modern world, where people are ready to go to great lengths to buy expensive items. In fact, a recent survey has revealed that Americans spend close to $39 billion while drunk shopping online.
The benefits of online shopping cannot be overstated. You can have anything delivered to your doorstep, and you do not even have to step outside! While that is largely helpful in various circumstances, online shopping also fuels certain bad habits, mainly wasteful spending. Most people who like to shop have a habit of buying things they do not need or use on a daily basis. Having everything at your fingertips enables such behaviors. Then there is the habit of shopping under the influence. While that does not sound as reckless as driving under the influence, it can be pretty damaging to one’s personal finances.
As per a survey, nearly 50% of Americans go online to buy items after they have had a few drinks. In fact, drunk shopping is now a multi-billion dollar habit. Here are some things that people are buying while they are tipsy from a few drinks – 52.06% drunk shoppers buy food, 43.22% indulge in clothing and shoes, and 30.26% buy cigarettes. Now, if you are picturing mostly women sitting around the couch and ordering stuff, you would be wrong. The survey also revealed 56% of the drunk shoppers were men, while 44% were women.
The main takeaway from this story is that while we all want pretty or expensive things, we should employ better judgment when actually buying these items. Making life-altering decisions just to own a few luxury items does not make any sense.