Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Kidney Heist

Author: Rasheda A. Cobb


Original image by Lindsey Humes 
 Since 1991, there have been rumors of people who wake up with their kidney(s) stolen, as the name of this tale suggests.   As described by Jerry Mayfield in You’ve Got to be Kidneying Me, business travelers fall prey to organ- harvesting criminals.  Although there are reported variations of the nature of these incidents, the scenarios are normally as follows:  Jonathan, a pseudonym for this article’s sake, took a business trip to Las Vegas, ironically known as Sin City!   After a very exhausting, long day of work, Jonathan went to a lounge to relax.  Just as Jonathan was about to order a drink, an attractive brunette walked up to him and began to flirt.  She told Jonathan she noticed that he looked tired and offered to buy him a drink.  As anyone would, Jonathan took the offer.  He had no recollection of anything past his first sip of the “potion!”
            Jonathan woke up in a hotel with his body submerged in a tub filled with ice.  He then noticed a note on the wall that instructed him not to move and call 911.  Jonathan reached for the phone on a nearby table and dialed 911.  As he began to explain his emergency, he noticed that the operator seemed familiar with his case.  The operator told Jonathan to feel his lower back to see if there was a tube protruding from his back, and there was.  The operator told Jonathan that his kidney had been stolen!  She then told him not to move and she was sending paramedics to the hotel.  
            I can only imagine that the victims of the kidney heist wake up frightened to death, as an actor portrayed on an episode of Law and Order.  When the victim from the episode (Sonata for Solo Organ) was rushed to the hospital.  The doctor expressed that criminal had sewn the victim back up well.  Meticulousness is evident at that point.  As stated in You’ve Got to be Kidneying me,  “The story went with a well- financed, highly organized gang operating in various major U.S. cities was drugging business travelers and making off with the kidneys to sell on the organ transplant black market.”  This statement also supports the many claims that the criminals were sophisticated and meticulous.



According to Fred Hubert, Chairman of the National Kidney Society, the effects of the rumor, The  Kidney Heist  are detrimental in that it keeps people from becoming kidney donors.   According to Hubert in THE NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION DISPELS RUMORS ABOUT ILLEGALLY HARVESTED KIDNEYS, “…more than 68,000 Americans are awaiting life-saving organ transplants and 13 to 14 people on the waiting list die each day.”   So, obviously, this tale is not helping the betterment of the world.  Dispelling this rumor is key and attainable with research.   Research can go in so many other directions for this topic such as the origin of the tale, or even comparing the kidney (renal) transplant done by the thief and an actual surgeon.  For even more leads than this article provides visit:    

Other References for Research:
Urban Legend  
This web source, from Princeton University, gives you information on how Urban Legends have played a role in shaping into what it is today. 

Debunking the Kidney Heist Hoax 
This web source provides information on the origin of the rumor.  The Washington post ran a story about The Kidney Heist in 1991.  A rejected movie script inspired the story written by The Washington Press. 

Kidney Heist -- And Other Urban Myths It`s Really The Truth, We Swear It: Another Urban Legend Is Born.
This web source provides insight from Jan Brunvand, a folklore professor at the University of Utah.  Brunvand feels the story is an American version of cases where kids in 3rd world countries were kidnapped and killed for their organs.   


Works Cited:
 Humes, Lindsey. Magazine spread ideas for the Urban Legend "The Kidney Heist.”  Cartoon.  N.d.  Behance.net. Web.  19 Oct. 2013.       

“The National Kidney Foundation Dispels Rumors About Illegally Harvested Kidneys.”  Kidney.org. National Kidney Foundation. 2 Apr. 2000. Web. 9 Oct. 2013.

“Sonata for Solo Organ.” Law and Order. Dir. Fred Gerber. NBC.  2 Apr. 2001.  Television. 

“You’ve Got to Be Kidneying.” Snopes.com. N.p., 12 Mar, 2008. Web. 9 Oct. 2013.