The Organ Business: Scandals Touch U.S., Kosovo

Part One of Two

Selling Human Organs

| Aug 2, 2011

If you just skimmed the article, it was easy to miss. Two years ago, the FBI busted dozens of New Jersey officials in "Operation Bid Rig." Mayors, rabbis, and pillars of the community had been caught in dirty dealing, accused of corruption, money laundering, and organ sales. That's right: selling human organs.

It was a small part of a big regional story. But that small mention opens a window into a world of money and lies that boggles the imagination. People need organs---the demand is highest for kidneys---and they're not willing to wait. They want action now, and they're willing to pay. The prospect of easy money tempts the poor and desperate, and a market is born.

The problem isn't isolated to one bust from two years ago. Late last year, European Union officials charged seven people with organ trafficking in a Kosovo-based operation. In that case, nearly two dozen foreigners living in "extreme poverty or acute financial distress" were "recruited with the false promises of payments," said European Union prosecutor Jonathan Ratel. They were told that they would receive up to $20,000 for their organs.

In many cases, they received nothing. But their organs were still sold---sometimes for as much as $200,000---to wealthy patients from the United States, Israel, and other countries. The operations were done in medical facilities in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Officials suspect that this trafficking ring was only part of a larger criminal operation, perhaps based in Israel.

In the 2009 New Jersey case, Brooklyn's Levy Izhak Rosenbaum was accused of setting up organ sales. He told sources that he had been in the business for a decade. "His business was to entice vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000, which he would turn around and sell for $160,000," said Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra.

Others involved in the wide-ranging corruption probe included Peter Cammarano, the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., as well as the mayors of Secaucus and Ridgefield. Several high-profile area rabbis were also accused of running a money-laundering ring through their charities.

What do you think? Should law enforcement officials spend time and effort going after people who set up organ donations for a price? Or are these brokers merely filling a demand? Let us know in the comments below.

In part two of this series, we'll look more closely into why and how people decide to sell their organs.




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Posted by newstart1 on 2 August 2011

As a kidney transplant recipient, I am extremely grateful for the live kidney I received from a former student. My husband and I send out an annual Christmas Letter to our friends back home in NM. Mind you, these letters went out in March as a result of health reasons beside diabetes. I had no faith in the Unos transplant Organization, at that time it seemed to loosey goosey to provide a kidney for me. My only prayer was to please keep from having to start dialysis. I couldn't quite bring myself to pray that somedone would die so that I could have their kidney.
I asked all my friends, in the Christmas Letter, if they would consider donating a kidney to me. All I needed was one response and I got it. My husband's former student got the letter, went home and prayed for guidance. In a dream Jesus came to her and told her to donate the kidney to me. We were almost a perfect match. Ten years later, my kidney is working fine. Because of her religious origins, I decided to call my kidney Ruth, "Whither thou goest, I will go..."
I had offers from a plethora of people who were willing to #1 Find a kiidney to buy #2 Find what they called unidentified "road kill" from whom a cadaver kidney could be harvested. I was horrified.
Have faith people, all you gotta do is ask. I am against the harvesting methods described in this article. God Bless you all. Marilynn Gay Montgomery

Posted by Anonymous on 8 August 2011

I would give up my kidney for 20,000$ and im not in a bad financial situation its my body part why wouldnt i be able to sell it to the highest bidder?

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