A Thai doctor has condemned a circulating meme suggesting that three people pictured with bloodied bandages on their abdomens sold their kidneys to buy the new Apple iPhone 14.
Dr. Sophon Mekthon, the managing director of the Thai Red Cross Organ Donation Center, warned people on Sunday that organ trading in Thailand is illegal and condemned the circulating meme after it reached Thai social media over the weekend.
“There is no organ trading. That is prohibited,” Mekthon said. “It is inappropriate to suggest selling organs, especially to get money to buy an iPhone. It is morally wrong and unethical.”
The picture featured three people with their abdomens exposed and bandaged, implying that they each sold a kidney to afford an iPhone 14.
Apple started taking pre-orders for the new iPhone in Thailand last week. The iPhone 14 retails for between 32,900 to66,900 Thai baht (approximately $899-$1,827), depending on the model and storage. Thailand became one of the first countries to receive the new iPhone on Sept. 16.
The meme was reportedly taken as a joke in Laos, but commenters in Thailand took the picture seriously after it reached their social media platforms on Saturday. Some commenters criticized the joke and the message it sends to younger people.
After the backlash, Mekthon encouraged people to register with the Thai Red Cross Organ Donation Centre to become organ donors after they die. He noted that more than two million people have already registered as organ donors, and there are currently 6,000 in need of organs.
A similar story was reported in 2019 when a Chinese man suffered serious organ failure after he sold his kidney in 2011 to buy an iPhone 4.