2 Jerusalemites suspected of kidney trafficking

Two Jerusalem residents have been arrested on suspicion of organ trafficking in a case cleared for publication Thursday. Police know of at least 10 Israelis who agreed to donate kidneys, most due to financial difficulties.

Jerusalem police investigators waited for the two suspects, Sami Shem-Tov and Dmitry Orenstein, at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem on Sunday. They would have arrived on site to perform a tissue analysis on two other people.

According to suspicions, the two newspaper ads published an offer to mediate kidney donation. They would then make the connection between a person looking to sell a kidney and a person looking to buy one.

Each of these operations would cost approximately $ 200,000. The operation would be carried out abroad, mainly in South America or China.

Dmitry Orenstein in court (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

For each of these mediations, Shem-Tov and Orenstein would have received tens of thousands of dollars. People who sold their kidneys received only a small portion of this amount. Police are now checking how many such transactions have taken place and how long the activity has lasted.

A day after their arrest, the two suspects were brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, where their pre-trial detention was extended. Orenstein was placed under house arrest on Wednesday.

According to the Law on Organ Transplantation, trafficking and sale of organs is prohibited. The law entered into force last year and since then the act has been considered a criminal offense.

Superintendent Gilad Behat, head of the Jerusalem Police Fraud Division, said 10 people seeking to sell their kidneys have been questioned so far. “There may have been additional agreements that have been implemented,” he added.

At this point, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital is reportedly unrelated to the case, although the two suspects have been arrested at its premises.

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Albert C. Prince

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