Friday, October 28, 2011

Brooklyn man pleads guilty to trafficking black market kidneys

Yesterday, in Trenton NJ, Brooklyn man pleads guilty to trafficking black market kidneys to N.J. residents

"The price was steep. As much as $160,000 to secure a donor willing to give up a human kidney for transplant.

"And Levy Itzhak Rosenbaum ... bragged on surveillance recordings that he had participated in many such black market deals.

"Today, the 60-year-old Israeli pleaded guilty in federal court to helping an FBI informant procure a kidney as part of an elaborate federal sting. At the same time, he admitted arranging transplants for three other New Jersey patients with failing kidneys — all of whom underwent surgery in out-of-state hospitals after paying Rosenbaum. None of the patients or hospitals was named, nor were they charged.

"It marked the first time in this country anyone has ever been convicted for brokering illegal kidney transplants for profit."

See my earlier post on this case:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Corruption and kidneys in New Jersey and Brooklyn

the Haaretz story is very good, so I'm quoting a lot of it below:
New York man pleads guilty to selling Israeli human organs

"His attorneys, Ronald Kleinberg and Richard Finkel, said in a statement that their client had performed a life-saving service for desperately ill people who had been languishing on official transplant waiting lists.

"The transplants were successful and the donors and recipients are now leading full and healthy lives," the statement said. "In fact, because of the transplants and for the first time in many years, the recipients are no longer burdened by the medical and substantial health dangers associated with dialysis and kidney failure."
"The lawyers added that Rosenbaum had never solicited clients, but that recipients had sought him out, and that the donors he arranged to give up kidneys were fully aware of what they were doing. The money involved, they argued, was for expenses associated with the procedures, which they claim were performed in prestigious American hospitals by experienced surgeons and transplant experts. The lawyers did not name the hospitals involved, nor are they named in court documents.
"Prosecutors argued that Rosenbaum was fully aware he was running an illicit and profitable operation - buying organs from vulnerable people in Israel for $10,000, and selling them to desperate, wealthy American patients.
"A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot," said New Jersey's U.S. Attorney, Paul Fishman. "We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity."
"Each of the four counts carries a maximum five-year prison sentence plus a fine of up to $250,000. Rosenbaum also agreed to forfeit $420,000 in real or personal property that was derived from the illegal kidney sales.
"Although the hospitals where the operations Rosenbaum arranged have not been named, critics and experts on organ trafficking say many U.S. hospitals do not have vigorous enough procedures for looking into the source of the organs they transplant because such operations are lucrative.
"Under 1984 federal law, it is illegal for anyone to knowingly buy or sell organs for transplant. The practice is illegal just about everywhere else in the world, too.
"But demand for kidneys far outstrips the supply, with 4,540 people dying in the U.S. last year while waiting for a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. As a result, there is a thriving black market for kidneys around the world.
"Art Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-chairman of a United Nations task force on organ trafficking, said kidneys are the most common of all trafficked organs because they can be harvested from live donors, unlike other organs. He said Rosenbaum had pleaded guilty to one of the "most heinous crimes against another human being."
"Internationally, about one quarter of all kidneys appear to be trafficked," Caplan said. "But until this case, it had not been a crime recognized as reaching the United States."

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