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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police are hunting for a woman suspected of gouging out the eyes of a six-year-old boy, possibly to get her hands on his corneas to sell on the organ transplant black market, state media reported on Wednesday, a crime which has horrified China.
The boy, from northern Shanxi province, was lured into a field on Saturday by the woman, where she gouged out his eyes and left him in a pool of blood, only to be discovered by his parents hours later, Chinese media reported.
While his eyes were recovered, doctors were unable to save his sight and he is now blind, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The China News Service said his corneas had been removed, likely to be sold on the black market.
However, Xinhua said police have "initially ruled out the possibility of organ trafficking involvement in the case".
Police are offering a reward of 100,000 yuan ($16,300) for the capture of the woman suspected of the crime, Xinhua added.
The case has become the most widely searched for term on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service, with people calling for swift justice to be meted out.
"What kind of terrible person could do this? Let's unite together to find the criminal," wrote one Weibo user.
Supply of organs and other body parts for transplants in China falls far short of demand due in part to the traditional Chinese belief that bodies should be buried or cremated intact.
An estimated 300,000 patients are waitlisted every year for organ transplants and only about one in 30 ultimately will receive a transplant. Many organs come from executed prisoners, a practice China is trying to phase out.
The shortage has driven a trade in illegal organ trafficking.
($1 = 6.1217 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski