An iPad 2 is the latest rage in China, as well as the United States. In America, people stood on line for hours just to get one on the day they were released. In China, a teen wanted one so badly that he sold a kidney … at least according to Shenzhen TV based in the southern province of Guangdong.
The boy, who identified himself only as Zheng, told reporters, “I wanted to buy an iPad but I didn’t have the money.” Then, while surfing the net, he found an ad that offered RMB 20,000 ($3,000) for a kidney. He already had two, and he didn’t have an iPad, so Zheng decided to go for it.
His problem was that when he got home, clutching a new laptop and iPhone, Zheng’s mother became suspicious. She took him back to the hospital, which told her that it was not licensed to do transplants, but that they did rent out their space to private businesses. At the time of the surgery, the hospital’s urology department had been rented out to just such a businessman. Zheng then tried to call his contacts, but quickly discovered that their phones were no longer activated.
Apple has a troubled history in China, where it assembles its most popular products. There are steady reports of workers at the Foxconn factories committing suicide because of the harsh working conditions. The situation has gotten so bad that workers are now required to sign a “No-Suicide” clause in their contracts. Just last month, four people were injured in a scuffle at the Apple store in Beijing. The problem was apparently caused by a scalper, who hoped to stock up on the iPad2 so that he could later sell it at a premium.
Now we’re finding teenagers who are willing to sell body parts for the latest gadget. There is, in fact, a thriving organ black market in China, where 1.5 million people are waiting for a new kidney, but only 10,000 officially become available each year.
But the desire to own Apple products has become a major status symbol in the People’s Republic. While some reports have expressed skepticism about the veracity of the story, it indicates how desperate people in China are to get their hands on an Apple.