Friday, October 28, 2011
Black Market Kidney Conviction in US
A man pled guilty yesterday to multiple counts of illegal trafficking in human kidneys. This is the first conviction under federal law banning the sale of human organs. The defendant took payments of $120,000 or more for each of three kidneys which he purchased from donors in Israel for $10,000 each. He was caught in a government sting operation, attempting to sell an organ to a federal agent. His attorneys argued that the resultant transplants worked, relieving the American buyers from the burdens of kidney disease and dialysis; that the organ recipients had sought him out and not vice-versa; that the donors in each case were aware of what they were doing; and that the surgeries were conducted by reputable and skilled transplant surgeons in well-known (but unnamed) American hospitals. The money, they argued, was used for "expenses associated with the procedures"--though it's not clear from the coverage what that's supposed to mean. Federal prosecutors were rightly unimpressed, noting that black-market organ sales pose a public health danger, and are also unfair, since they result in preferential allocation of organs to the rich (and corrupt).