Online bidding for a human kidney soared to more than $5.7 million before officials at the auction site Ebay closed it down. Ebay officials pulled the item which was advertised for sale as a "fully functional kidney." Company officials said it was impossible to tell if the offer, or the bids, were genuine. Bargaining in human organs is a US federal felony punishable by a minimum of five years in prison with fines as high as $250,000. Earlier this year, Ebay added guns and ammunition to the list of items that cannot be traded on the site. "Sales of body parts are illegal," said Steve Westly, vice president of marketing and business development at the Silicon Valley based online auctioneer. "It happens very rarely and when it does we are on top of it right away." Ebay executives said they suspect the auctioneer was playing a prank, noting the "flippant nature" of the description of the item for sale. But, Westly pointed out, that even if it was a hoax, "we are very serious about our message: if you are thinking of doing something illegal, Ebay is the last place you should choose." The undesignated seller, who went by the Ebay user name "hchero," started the bidding at $25,000. The seller reportedly included the description, "you can choose either kidney. Buyer pays all transplant and medical costs. Of course only one for sale, as I need the other one to live." Ebay carries more than 2.6 million items and has around six million registered users. It said offerings of organs were a relative rarity on Ebay. "Ebay has zero tolerance for illegal items on the site," Westly said.
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