A court in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has handed prison terms to eight people involved in a kidney trading ring that sent 37 Vietnamese to Cambodia as organ donors.
Each of the eight defendants received 10-16 years behind bars for the charge of “trading human body parts.” They all worked as brokers for the kidney trading ring, the largest ever that Vietnamese police have busted.
The ring leader, Ton Nu Thi Huyen, 46, died of kidney failure during the investigation.
According to the verdict, in 2009, Huyen went to China to get an illegal kidney transplant, where she met a man named Dao Thanh Nhan.
In 2016, she came to Cambodia to meet Nhan and he introduced her to a Singaporean doctor who was working at a hospital in Phnom Penh.
That doctor told Huyen to find people that want to sell their kidneys and bring them to Cambodia for the surgery.
Huyen then returned to Vietnam and connected with Viet, who she asked to search for people who had stated on social media that they wanted to sell kidneys. For every kidney transplanted, Huyen got VND70 million (US$2,973), of which she shared VND15-25 million with Viet.
Those that successfully came to Cambodia to sell their kidneys then returned to Vietnam and introduced more candidates to Huyen and Viet.
Taking advantage of a Facebook group named “Hoi hien than,” (kidney donation group), Huyen and Viet put their candidates on the list of donors so that they would be sent to major hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City to take several tests needed for a kidney transplant.
Huyen then sent all the test results to the Singaporean doctor.
When the doctor found a match, Huyen took the kidney sellers to Cambodia for the surgery.
After selling their kidneys, each of the “donors” stayed at the hospital in Phnom Penh for 12 days and was paid VND200-210 million.
Between April 2017 and January 2019, Huyen’s ring had attracted 100 kidney sellers and sent 37 of them to Cambodia for transplant surgeries.
Of those who were sent to Cambodia, 20 successfully sold their kidneys, allowing Huyen to pocket VND1.4 billion.
Viet earned VND150 million after finding 40 kidney sellers for the ring, eight of whom successfully sold their kidneys. Each of the other seven defendants earned VND40-120 million as brokers.
The Vietnamese authorities have asked their counterparts in Cambodia to help track down the Singaporean doctor and Dao Thanh Nhan.
All eight defendants told the jury that they are aware of the crime they committed, but they justified what they did on the grounds that they were all in difficult financial situations and had to sell their kidneys to earn money. They said that only after that, did they introduce others to the ring.
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