You heard about the New Jersey corruption probe of course. Are you aware that one of the accusations coming out of it involves a Brooklyn NY Rabbi named Levy Izhak Rosembaum? Rosenbaum apparently had set himself up as a “matchmaker”, but we are not talking about speed dating here. Nope, it appears that he may have been buying kidneys from desperate people in Israel for around $10,000, and then selling them to desperate people in the USA for around $160,000. Do the math, that’s a good profit. Problem is, that’s illegal. It would also appear to be the first time that law enforcement has arrested someone in the USA for organ trafficking.
Internationally, it’s also illegal almost everywhere, but apparently that is not preventing it from happening in Pakistan, the Phillipines, and China. In the case of China, there are suspicions that organs are sometimes obtained from the bodies of executed persons. (“Why are you taking a blood test? You are going to hang me tomorrow, you don’t need to keep me healthy.” Sorry, I guess it’s not really that funny) Obviously if you KILL the guy, you get two kidneys! That’s twice as profitable as the cases when the donor keeps one kidney in order to stay alive himself.
In terms of public health, the illegal kidney peddling on our planet seems to flow logically from the fact that there are more dying people out there than there are kidneys to keep them alive. Supply and demand. Last year in the USA, 4500 people died waiting for a kidney. Presto, black market. An estimated 10% of all kidney transplants are done illegally now. That’s around 5000 per year, globally speaking.
There have been suggestions made that kidney donors should actually have access to payment, rather than depending on people to undergo major surgery, physical pain, and some risk to their lives (what if kidney #2 gives out?) just to be nice people. Obviously that is not generating enough kidneys to save the dying. Tough issue there. Do we want to create a marketplace here, risk getting our hands dirty, and save some lives? Or (similar to the drug war possibly) do we prefer to pretend that our collective hands are clean, and punish the few people we are able to catch who fall prey to the immense profits of illegal organ peddling.
I am left with only questions, rather than answers. But this whole thing is a real eye-opener.