Rabbi Levy-Izhak (Isaac Rosenbaum) is by far the most interesting and most egregious of all the public officials and religious leaders busted in this week’s FBI sting. Who would think a Rabbi would traffic organs? Not many, but Professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes is one who did. See updates below.
Rabbi Rosenbaum is 58 years old. His neighbors in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn thought he was in the construction and real estate businesses. It is believed that Rosenbaum’s “business” for a decade has been illegal transplant organ trafficking.
Seven years ago, the FBI was tipped off about Rosenbaum’s human organ participation. Evidentally, they didn’t believe the information provided by Professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes.
Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum’s name, address and even phone number were passed to an FBI agent in a meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan by a prominent anthropologist who has been studying and documenting organ trafficking for more than a decade.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes of the University of California, Berkeley, was and is very clear as to Rosenbaum’s role in the ring.
“He is the main U.S. broker for an international trafficking network,” she said.
Her sources include a man who started working with Rosenbaum imagining he was helping people in desperate need. The man then began to see the donors, or to be more accurate, sellers, who were flown in from impoverished countries such as Moldova.
“He said it was awful. These people would be brought in and they didn’t even know what they were supposed to be doing and they would want to go home and they would cry,” Scheper-Hughes said.
The man called Rosenbaum “a thug” who would pull out a pistol he was apparently licensed to carry and tell the sellers, “You’re here. A deal is a deal. Now, you’ll give us a kidney or you’ll never go home.’ ”
Scheper-Hughes felt she had to stop Rosenbaum. She met with the FBI.
“I always thought of it as my Dick Tracy moment,” she said Thursday.
She waited and waited for something to be done. The FBI may have been following the lead of the State Department, which dismissed organ trafficking as “urban legend.”
“It would be impossible to conceal a clandestine organ trafficking ring,” a 2004 State Department report stated.
Scheper-Hughes also went to Brazil and South Africa with her information, where it was taken seriously and acted upon.
But the ring kept operating elsewhere. Scheper-Hughes visited villages in Moldova where, “20% of the men were siphoned off to be kidney sellers in this same scheme.”
Scheper-Hughes, a professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, is producing a documentary “A World Cut in Two, The Global Traffic in Humans for Organs.”
Kidneys are the new blood diamonds,” said Nancy Scheper-Hughes, founder and director of Organs Watch, which documents and studies the trend at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s big, big money.”
About kidney transplanting:
Kidneys can be transplanted from both living and recently-deceased donors, but those from living donors last longer, surgeons have found. Because people have two kidneys, they are usually able to donate one without suffering ill effects. But studies have shown that impoverished live donors, who usually lack follow-up health care, don’t do as well after the operation.
Levy-Izhak (Isaac) Rosenbaum is out of jail on bail of $3 million secured by his own real estate holding. He was ordered not to have any contact with prior kidney donors or recipients.
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