Renal Transplant “Matchmaker” Busted

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As has been extensively detailed over the past week, one of the key guilty parties in the large federal sting operation exposing shockingly Sopranos-type corruption throughout the state of New Jersey was this man: Levy Isaac Rosenbaum, allegedly one of the largest illegal organ traffickers in the U.S.

According to this article, Rosenbaum was initially suspected to be dealing in human organ trafficking by a UC-Berkeley anthropologist. The actual sting operation involved an FBI agent posing as an individual seeking a kidney for a fictitious uncle who had been on dialysis for two years and was tired of waiting on the transplant list. During a series of meetings Rosenbaum described himself as a “matchmaker”, asked for a total of $160,000 for the kidney, and implied that he had brokered many such deals in the past, even providing as references past individuals who had successfully used his kidney matchmaking service. Allegedly, he would obtain his kidneys from impoverished donors from Israel and Eastern Europe, often for a sum of only about $10,000. There are even tales of his threatening reluctant donors at gunpoint when they attempted to back out of a planned donation.

The story suggests that transplant programs may need to be more vigilant in their screening of potential donor/recipient pairs. It’s been long suspected that “transplant tourism” takes place elsewhere. The discovery that it is being controlled from within the U.S. is even more chilling.

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