Forbes Richard C. Morais January 29, 2007
The demand for transplants can’t be met by altruistic organ banks, so Internet brokers are stepping into the breach. It’s not a pretty picture.
From his modest ranch home in the hills of Sun Valley, Calif., filled with didgeridoos picked up in Australia and German shepherd puppies, James Cohan, 66, sells organ transplant brokering services to the desperate. His customers face certain death if their diseased organs aren’t quickly swapped out. They find him on the Internet; his stated fee–$140,000 for a kidney and $290,000 for a heart, liver or lung–includes hospital and surgeon charges, and flights and accommodation for a fellow traveler, such as a nurse or spouse.
Cohan’s sales pitch: The quality of the organ is more important than the choice of the doctor performing the transplant, and I know how to get you a fresh organ–quickly–if you’ve got the money. “If you keep putting a broken engine into your car, you’re going to keep on having the same problem, no matter how good the mechanic is,” he says.