Well, not exactly. As you have doubtless read by now, a bunch of harredi rabbis and some schmuck New Jersey politicians were nabbed in a massive money-laundering/organ selling scheme last week. (will I stop buying them? No). Explained below:
Boy, New Yorker web editor Blake Eskin must be chowing some serious humble pie right now. Every week, he interviews just one of the magazine’s mega-watt writers about a project of paramount importance. Then, last week, just three short days after he posted a lengthy interview with Larissa MacFarquhar discussing her article about MatchingDonors.com, a sort of kidney-donor dating site, the feds up and bust one of the biggest organ-buying schemes in history right in the New Yorker’s back yard.
I’m telling you, the whole masthead probably was probably kicking itself in the collective pants over the worst-timed article ever. In case you missed the piece, it’s a look at altruism through the lives of people who become living donors, giving their kidneys away to total strangers. A week ago, we might have called them selfless. Today we’d call them shmucks.
Here’s poor Larissa MacFarquhar pouring weeks if not months of her life into a story she believes has the potential to help the 4,500 Americans who die ever year waiting for cadaver kidneys, and bam!, the worst PR disaster ever to hit living donation wipes her clean off the map. It’s rabbis! And Gucci purses! And Moldova! (That’s Europe’s poorest country, in case you weren’t paying attention).
And here you thought the only kidney for sale in Borough Park was in your Jerusalem Mix shawarma. Maybe if those couture industry-reps had done their homework last year, we’d know piracy actually funds international organ-rackets, not terrorism.
As Kevin Drum points out, there are some strong arguements on both ends of the kidney-for-compensation debte. In so much as you buy the arguement, “matchmaker” Rabbi Levy Izhack Rosenbaum and the 43 other people indicted on charges of brokering other people’s insides were just ahead of the curve. You know, legally.
As someone with chronically suboptimal kidney function and an incurable love of knockoff designer bags, I was disappointed. There’s an international kidney-selling racket running out of my old stomping grounds and all I got was this Chinatown purse…but the bigger disappointment is obviously for donor-matching advocates like my friend Jessica (who studied with Dr. Nancy Schlepper-Hughes, the UC Berkeley anthropologist who tipped the feds to Rosenbaum six years ago) and the thousands of people waiting for a life-saving donation that may never come. What’s clear, even for poor Larissa MacFarquhar, is that matchmaking is still trickier than it seems.