- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
I’m sure Angry Birds must be twice as awesome on the bigger screen, but this still seems extreme:
A teenager in Huaishan, Anhui Province has sold one of his kidneys to buy an iPad2 tablet computer, as reported by SZTV on June 1.
The 17-year-old man surnamed Zheng, a freshman in high school, got connected with a kidney-selling agent through the internet, who pledged to pay him 20,000 yuan ($3,084.45 ) for one of his kidneys.
On April 28 of this year, Zheng went to Chenzhou, Hunan Province to have his kidney removed under the supervision of three so-called middlemen, and received 22,000 yuan ($3,392.97). Then he returned home with a laptop and an iPhone.
Zheng’s mother discovered her son’s new electronic products and forced him to reveal how he came to afford them. Then she took Zheng to Chenzhou and reported the matter to local police. The three agents’ telephones have not been answered since that time.
Be sure to check out Scott Carney’s new piece on the rise of the "red market" and why "no society has had as insatiable an appetite for human flesh as the developed world of the 21st century."
Putting aside the fact that Zheng is underage, broke the law, and is (seemingly) a moron, the ethical questions surrounding the organ market are not so simple. What if Zheng were a consenting adult rather than a teenager and looking to start a small business or move his family into a nicer home rather than pick up the latest toys from Cupertino?
Carney writes that the fundamental question surrounding the human-organ supply chain is "at what point is one person entitled to use the flesh of another?" That’s a good question, but so is whether a person should be denied an economic opportunity — and perhaps save a life in the process — because the idea of buying and selling human flesh makes us queasy? It’s an uncomfortable subject, but an increasingly relevant one.