Five arrested for kidney trade involving hundreds of donors

By Phan Anh   February 1, 2019 | 08:20 am GMT+7
Five arrested for kidney trade involving hundreds of donors
A supplier for a massive kidney brokering ring busted in Vietnam Thursday is seen after a kidney removal surgery. Photo courtesy of police

An illegal kidney brokering ring was busted by Vietnamese authorities Thursday, the biggest ever in the country's history.

Five people involved in the scheme were detained by Saigon police: alleged ring leader Ton Nu Thi Huyen, 44, Hoang Duc Tung, 28, Huynh Linh Tam, 27, Pham Quang Canh, 23, and Nguyen Minh Tam, 20.

Police said the ring has been operating since May 2017, after Huyen tried to sell her own kidney to pay off a debt. Members would approach potential kidney sellers on social media and have them go to hospitals in Vietnam and several other Asian countries for kidney removal surgeries.

Investigation found it had worked with "hundreds of sellers," most of them people from poor rural areas and ethic minority groups. These people would be convinced that the procedures will not leave any impacts on their health.

Police have also tracked down 11 donors overseas and brought them home.

The ring would charge approximately VND500 million ($21,500) for each kidney transplant, with the donor getting VND200 million ($8,600). Brokers were given between $860 and $1,100 for each successful referral.

Ton Nu Thi Huyen signs a document at a HCMC police station for allegedly leading a kidney trafficking ring. Photo by Vietnam Television

Ton Nu Thi Huyen signs a document at a HCMC police station for allegedly leading a kidney trafficking ring. Photo by Vietnam Television

Police said the ring was the biggest organ brokering scheme ever busted in Vietnam.

Phan Manh Truong, deputy head of the Crime Department at the Ministry of Public Security, said the people running the ring have either sold or bought kidneys themselves, and thus know the steps well.

"We were quite shocked by the mass number of victims, who came from many cities and provinces," Truong said, refering to those asked to join the ring's supply.

He said the ring involved overseas syndicates and thus would demand different units to join the investigation.

Organ trafficking schemes in Vietnam are fueled by the shortage of donations, as many people in the country believe they need all their body parts for the afterlife.

This has left thousands of patients suffering from heart, kidney, liver and lung diseases and blind people awaiting donations.

The act of trading body parts is punished by up to life imprisonment in Vietnam.

 
 
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