A Korean woman in her 50s has been fined for offering to sell a portion of her liver to the chairman of a construction company in exchange for 100 million won (approximately $78,000) and a job for her son.
In February, the woman, identified as Ms. K, met with an employee of the construction company to present her proposition after hearing from a friend about the ill chairman’s circumstance.
One month later, Ms. K impersonated the daughter-in-law of the chairman at a hospital in Seoul to be tested for the transplant. The National Institute of Organ, Tissue and Blood Management approved the woman for the transplant a week later.
Soon after the woman was admitted to the hospital, she was diagnosed with COVID-19, causing a delay in the surgery. As Ms. K spent more time in the hospital, a nurse became suspicious of the relationship between the parties and reported Ms. K for organ trafficking.
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Consequently, the operation was canceled. The chairman awaiting the liver transplant passed away in July while the investigation was still taking place.
Under Korea’s Organ Transplant Act, the act of providing compensation in exchange for an organ is strictly prohibited.
Ms. K stood before the court and requested clemency, claiming that she was not aware that she was breaking the law.
“I thought my son would be able to get a job if the operation was a success,” the woman explained during the trial. “I also got greedy because they promised to give me money.”
“Organ removal and transplant is strictly prohibited by law in light of the fact that it can undermine public health and endanger the health and lives of both the donor and the recipient when conducted illegally. Since the defendants’ actions are in violation of this, they cannot avoid punishment under criminal law,” the Seoul Central District Court asserted.
Ms. K was ordered to pay a 3 million won (approximately $2,341) fine, while Mr. N, the employee who organized the transaction, was sentenced to six months in prison.