Kidneys: If you were a regular New Yorker reader, you might think that people were clamoring to give them away for free. But in fact, they cost a pretty penny, especially, if you buy them from someone like Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn, who was accused today of “enticing vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000 and then selling the organ for $160,000,” as the Times puts it, as part of the FBI’s sweep of New Jersey. To be fair, the markup seemed justified to Rosenbaum. Selling a kidney on the black market is complicated! We know, because in the complaint filed against him by the FBI, Rosenbaum explained to an undercover officer how his business worked.
“Let me explain to you one thing. It’s illegal to buy or sell organs…So you cannot buy it. What you do is, you’re giving a compensation for the time… I am what you call a matchmaker … I bring a guy what I believe, he’s suitable for your uncle…We put together something–the relationship. The hospital is asking what’s the relationship between [the donor and recipient.] So we put in a relationship, friends, or neighbor, or business relations, any relation…[you] wouldn’t go to cousins because it’s, they–the recipient is not going to be investigated, but the, the donor is investigated … . So if, if you start with family, it’s real easy to find out if he’s not … it’s not the family, because the names and the ages and who is who … it doesn’t work… I put together the story by seeing your uncle, seeing him … Could be, ah, ah, neighbors, could be friends from shul, could be friends from the community, could be friends of, of, of his children…business friends. The price with what we are asking here is a hundred fifty- thousand dollars… One of the reasons it’s so expensive is because you have to shmear everyone.
Actually it was that expensive because Rosenbaum was pocketing close to all of the fee, but, you know.