Kidney for an iPhone meme condemned by doctors, commenters

PHOTO: Meme goes viral about selling your kidney for an iPhone. (via Matichon)

A Facebook post from Laos has gone viral and upset many people for its unsafe message about the expensive new iPhone. The post was captioned “Agreed for iPhone 14” and showed three people holding up their new Apple phones and lifting their shirts, revealing bandages on their abdomens, implying that they each sold their kidney to afford the price of the trendy gadget.

The new iPhone is retailing for between 41,000 and 45,000 baht, a hefty price tag for a country like Thailand, where the minimum wage is about 9,000 baht a month, let alone Laos where the minimum wage was raised to just under 3,000 baht a month.

The photo on Facebook has stirred controversy and was traced back to a beauty clinic in Laos that said they posted it as a parody. They jokingly said the new iPhone is so expensive, that they have had to sell their kidneys to their doctor. And in Laos, it was taken as a joke, with many commenters kidding around pondering how much they could get for a kidney, whether an appendix is possible to sell too, or what other things they could get with the money.

But, when the kidney for an iPhone post started going viral in Thailand, commenters online took the photo much more seriously and strongly condemned the message it sent to young people. They analysed and opined on the image, saying that the wound location looks more like an appendectomy, and researched to find the photo was taken at a Vietnamese clinic in Laos.

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Some seemed to understand that it was taken as a joke in aos, but said it was no laughing matter in Thailand. The managing director of the Organ Donation Centre under the Thai Red Cross Society called the meme unethical and inappropriate.

In Thailand, organ transplants can only be donated by a close relative with the supervision of the Thai Red Cross, and selling organs is illegal. People can sign up to donate their bodies for medical study, and organs like livers, hearts, and eyes can be harvested only after death.

The director urged people to sign up with the Thai Red Cross Organ Donation Centre, saying there are two million people signed up to donate their organs when they die, but there is currently a waiting list of about 6,000 people in need of donor organs. He took offence to the idea that there could be organ trading in the kingdom and said that giving people the idea that they could sell a kidney to get an iPhone was irresponsible.

“There is no organ trading. That is prohibited. It is inappropriate to suggest selling organs, especially to get money to buy an iPhone. It is morally wrong and unethical.”

SOURCE: Thai Newsroom & Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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