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Israeli Donor Get Thousands For His Kidney

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Israeli Donor Get Thousands For His Kidney

Short film ‘Kidney Beans’ shows how it easy it is to sell a kidney…

It was four years ago when Nick Rosen, a young cash starved Israeli, answered an advert in a newspaper for a kidney donor.

“I decided I wanted to make a positive change in my life and do something different…

“So I saw an ad in the paper and it said, ‘Kidney Donor Wanted.’ And called the ad in the paper, and they asked me my blood type.”

Rosen then traveled to the Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, and had one of his two healthy kidneys removed. Admitting that he lied in interviews with the hospitals transplant team, Rosen made a film called Kidney Beans, depicting how it easy it was to sell his kidney for $20,000:

“Let’s say I donated a kidney and received compensation,”

nick rosen Israeli Donor Get Thousands For His Kidney

In a written statement, Mount Sinai Medical Center told reporters:

“The pre-transplant evaluation may not detect premeditated and skillful attempts to subvert and defraud the evaluation process…

“Mount Sinai’s transplant screening process is rigorous and comprehensive, and assesses each donor’s motivation…

“We were duped.”

According to kidney transplant doctors the pre-screening process is quite rigorous. For two months prior to surgery, both recipient and donor must make several visits to a team of doctors, social workers, ethicists before a final decision is made.

Hospitals also ask donors to sign documents stating they have not received any compensation for donating a kidney. But no signature is required to prove family members.

The chief of nephrology at Mount Sinai, Dr. Barbara Murphy, later explained that hospitals and doctors are primarily concerned with medicine:

“We’re not detectives. We’re not the FBI…

“People can, on occasion, deceive us.”

Selling and receiving live organs for cash is illegal the U.S., and evidence suggest that this form of illicit activity is on the increase. According to the World Health Organization, 10 percent of kidney transplants worldwide are believed to be illegal.

Dr. Eli A. Friedman, a leading kidney specialist, teacher and researcher at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, said the United States leads the world in kidney transplants. About 16,000 of them are performed every year, he said:

“That would mean that somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 transplants in the United States might fall in the categorization of being illegal…

“I have had several experiences with patients with data that says they got a kidney from their brother, their sister or from their parent when they don’t have a brother or a sister…

” The transplant was performed under false circumstances.”

Friedman said he’d been offered bribes of $5,000 to $10,000 by kidney brokers:

“Of course I was very happy to see them leave the office very rapidly,”

The full extent of this underground network came to light early this year in July, when FBI agents arrested Brooklyn business man, Itzhak-Levy Rosenbaum, after he attempted to
sell a new kidney to an undercover agent for around $160,000.

According to reports, Rosenbaum told the agent he could buy the kidney for about $5,000 and gave instructions on exact procedures and methods to avoid detection. Rosenbaum was even quoted as bragging:

“So far, I’ve never had a failure.”

Rosenbaum’s attorney, Ronald Kleinberg, told reporters he could not comment on the FBI complaint “because I have not had enough time to assess the information.” He said that “assertions are incorrect,” and that law enforcement’s account of Rosenbaum’s network was inaccurate.

But law enforcement sources still claim that Rosenbaum had been the mastermind of a kidney-for-sale operation, which he called “United Lifeline,” that operated exclusively for Jewish customers for almost a decade.

Investigators say the donors usually came from Eastern Europe, were mostly poor and willing to sell their kidneys to U.S. and Israeli patients.

According to one expert on organ trafficking, the FBI had been alerted to Rosenbaum’s
activities years ago.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley and
founder of a newsletter called “Organs Watch,” said she had told the FBI about Rosenbaum and her suspicions about him seven years ago:

“I think they thought it was a very few bad apples,”

The FBI said would not officially comment on her assertions, but an FBI source later said, “We developed our own leads.”

According to Scheper-Hughes, the same day she spoke to CNN, she had learned of another illegal transplant surgery taking place at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. The donor, she said, was a young Korean national who had received more than $25,000 for one of his kidneys:

“This is a kid that does not speak much English, who is terrified and shaken…

“And he thought, ‘Maybe I’ve made a mistake to do this, but $25,000 is a good amount of cash.’”

In a statement, Cedars-Sinai spokeswoman Sally Stewart said:

“[Living donors] must state they are not receiving payment for their kidney…

“If at any time during the evaluation process, the transplant team suspects the donor is inappropriately being paid for a kidney, the transplant is canceled,”

But a hospital source later admitted, “We do not give lie-detector tests to our patients.”

According to Scheper-Hughes, who is in the final stages of writing a book on organ trafficking, much of the world’s illicit traffic in kidneys can be traced to Israel:

“Israel is the top…

“It has tentacles reaching out worldwide.”

Until March 2008, Israeli law allowed Israeli citizens to go abroad for live organ transplants from non-related donors, but this happened, there was no way for Israeli authorities to track which cases involved money changing hands.

Now under the new laws, Israeli investigators are looking intensively at illegal organ trafficking, the ministry said.

Gilad Ehrlick, the assistant district attorney for Israel’s Northern District, said he was shocked by the case. Secretly recorded conversations showed that Arab and Russian newspapers were targeting low-income Israelis and Palestinians with ads saying there would be payment in exchange for providing a kidney:

“The idea was the people were calling out of despair, out of urgent need who needed a quick way to make money,”

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