Israeli jailed for illegal US kidney transplants

image captionRosenbaum was arrested during a huge operation into corruption in many walks of life

An Israeli convicted of arranging US kidney transplants for profit has been given a two-and-a-half-year sentence.

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum admitted brokering kidney transplants for profit, becoming the first person convicted over illegal organ sales in the US, prosecutors say.

He was alleged to have charged between $120,000 (£77,400) and $160,000 to arrange kidneys for three people.

He was caught trying to arrange fourth operation when the FBI launched a sting operation in 2009.

New Jersey prosecutors said Rosenbaum, an Israeli living in Brooklyn, used newspaper adverts in his homeland to find donors willing to give up a kidney in return for cash.

He was alleged to have paid as little as $10,000 to secure a donor organ.

He then helped set up blood test and services to ensure a proper match was arranged for those in need of a transplant in the US.

'The cause was good'

Although at least one recipient of a kidney spoke up in defence during Rosenbaum's sentencing hearing, one other said they had felt exploited.

"It was wrong, but I thought the cause was good," Rosenbaum, 61, told the court.

"I can assure this court I will never do this again."

Prosecutor Paul Fishman said Rosenbaum was motivated by profit, not by a desire to heal the sick.

"A black market where the moneyed sick can buy replacement parts from the less fortunate is not only grim, it apportions lifesaving treatments unfairly, insults donor dignity, and violates the law," he said in a statement.

"Although Rosenbaum painted himself as a benevolent kidney matchmaker, the criminal profits went right into his pocket," Mr Fishman added.

But those who spoke in support of Rosenbaum described him as a devout Orthodox Jew who was dedicated to helping people.

"There are no victims here," Rachel Warshower, who travelled from Brooklyn to support Rosenbaum, told the Associated Press.

"The donors are happy and the recipients are happy. Izhak Rosenbaum is not the monster the media has made him out to be."