In the news coverage of the massive corruption arrests in New Jersey, there was a little medical shocker – “Another man in Brooklyn, Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum, was accused of enticing vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000 and then selling the organ for $160,000. Mr. Dwek pretended to be soliciting a kidney on behalf of someone and Mr. Rosenbaum said that he had been in business of buying organs for years, according to the complaint.”
These kidneys were apparently sold internationally, with recipients in one country and a donor in another. Are kidneys really being sold here in the States? Most likely. Should something be done about it? Undoubtedly. It’s probably past time that UNOS (the country’s organ transplant registry manager) or another agency such as the federal government’s HRSA, took on a greater regulatory role in transplantation – specifically to require all hospitals, clinics and physicians performing transplants to report each and every surgery, subject to audit – regardless of source of organ or payment for services (insurance or otherwise), with donor and recipient information provided and verifiable – as well as any “middleman”. That way, any surgery done with a non-family, overseas donor would be a red-flag, as well as any transplant paid for by cash. All organs coming into this country should be investigated – even if it is only through random spot checks, or rolling, thorough audits. All cash should be reported, with IRS involvement as indicated. Penalties for organ sales should be swift, severe, and include criminal charges too.
Trafficking in human parts is not that different (to my mind) from trafficking in humans.