Friday, July 24, 2009

New York man accused of trying to broker kidney sale

Other news reports said the 'donor' was paid $10,000 for the kidney while the recipient paid $160,000 for it. A net profit of $150,000 for the broker. I wonder if this isn't just the tip of the iceberg and that this sort of illegal trade in human organs is more widespread?

NEW YORK (CNN) -- One of the sweeping criminal complaints unveiled Thursday in New Jersey against 44 public officials and others includes a New York man accused of trying to arrange the private sale of a kidney from a donor in Israel.

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who lives in Brooklyn and is not a licensed physician or medical professional, faces charges of acting as a human organ broker. He offered to obtain a kidney for an undercover FBI agent and a confidential witness working for authorities, the criminal complaint says. The price was $160,000.

"I am what you call a matchmaker," Rosenbaum is quoted as saying at a July 13 meeting with the two undercover agents.

The undercover FBI agent told Rosenbaum one of her uncles needed a kidney because he had been on dialysis for two years and on a transplant list at a Philadelphia hospital, the complaint says. The first meeting took place at Rosenbaum's home on February 18, 2008, three days after the confidential witness contacted Rosenbaum by telephone, the document says.

At that meeting, the complaint alleges, Rosenbaum said he could obtain a kidney for $150,000. He later raised the price to $160,000.

"I'm doing this a long time," the complaint says Rosenbaum told the two agents. He then added: "Let me explain to you one thing. It's illegal to buy or sell organs. ... So you cannot buy it. What you do is, you're giving a compensation for the time."

At their last meeting, on July 13, Rosenbaum said he had been arranging kidney sales for 10 years, the complaint says. Asked how many transplants he had brokered, Rosenbaum is said to have responded, "Quite a lot. ... Quite a lot."

Rosenbaum also told the agents he had brokered a transplant two weeks before their meeting, the document says.

According to the complaint, the undercover FBI agent called a person who was the recipient of a kidney brokered by Rosenbaum, who had provided the telephone number as a reference. The person, a New Jersey-area resident identified in the complaint as Recipient 2, had paid cash for the kidney a little more than a year before the February 2009 call. The surgery was performed at a hospital outside the New Jersey area.

Asked about the donor's motive, the kidney recipient replied, "I guess he needed the money," according to the complaint.

All of the donors "come from Israel," Rosenbaum is alleged to have said.

The price had gone up to $160,000, he said, because "it's hard to get people," noting that Israel had passed laws prohibiting the sale of human organs, the complaint states.

The agents had already paid $10,000 and were told to bring another $70,000 at a meeting scheduled for this week. "I prefer you do it with cash," the complaint quotes Rosenbaum as saying.

The remaining $80,000 would be due "when I get the donor in the hospital, check them out," the complaint says.

Also read the extensive New York Daily News report.

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