rooklyn Rabbi Levy Izhak Rosenbaum was arrested for “trafficking in human body parts,” said Sally Satel in The Wall Street Journal, as part of an FBI corruption dragnet targeting 44 New Jersey–area officials and rabbis. But the bigger crime isn’t Rosenbaum’s alleged scheme to sell for $160,000 a kidney he bought from an Israeli for $10,000—it’s that dialysis-reliant Americans “desperate” for a life-saving kidney can’t legally buy one from a willing donor.
The kidney-selling rabbis probably saw it that way—as “mimicking the divine” by saving lives, said Benyamin Cohen in Slate, albeit illegally and for a tidy profit. For a variety of cultural and religious reasons, Jews don’t donate organs much: a “paltry 8 percent” of Israelis hold organ-donor cards, versus 35 percent of people in most Western nations. That leaves a big market for kidneys and other “transplant tourism.”
Still, there are good reasons that allowing people to pay for organs is “ferociously controversial,” said Larissa MacFarquhar in The New Yorker. Aside from real concerns about safety and exploiting the poor, it wouldn’t even necessarily increase the supply of U.S. transplant kidneys. In practice, most of the small number of for-sale kidneys would probably go to people who would otherwise rely on relatives, as most Americans do now.
There has to be a better solution than the status quo for the 80,000 Americans awaiting a new kidney, said Claire Suddath and Alex Altman in Time. A legal market for organs has pros and cons, but even those who find the idea “repugnant” can cheer that it would put “black-market kidney” outfits like Rabbi Rosenbaum’s out of business.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How my boyfriend and I learned to live on one income
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Affirmative action is doomed. Here's what progressives should do about it.
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- Why conservatives see rural America as the 'real' America
Subscribe to the Week