The Urban Legend of "The Kidney Thieves"

This girl went out on a Saturday night a few weeks ago to a party. She was having a good time and had a couple of beers and some guy seemed to like her and invited her to go to another party. She quickly agreed and decided to go along with him. He took her to a party in some apartment and they continued to drink, and even got involved with some drugs.

The next thing she knew, she woke up completely naked in a bathtub filled with ice. She was still feeling the effects of the drugs, but looked around to see she was alone. She looked down at her chest, which had CALL 911 or YOU'LL DIE" written on it with lipstick. She saw a phone on a stand next to the tub so she picked it up and dialed. She explained to the EMS operator what the situation was and that she didn't know where she was, what she took, or why she was really calling. The 911 operator advised her to get out of the tub. She did, and she appeared normal, so she was told to check her back. She did, and found two 9 inch slits on her lower back. The operator told her to get back into the tub immediately, and they sent a rescue team over.

Apparently, after being examined, she found out more of what had happened. Her kidneys were stolen. They were worth $10,000 each in the black market. Several guesses are in order: The second party was a sham, the people involved had to be at least medical students and it was not just recreational drugs she was given. Regardless, she is currently in the hospital on a life support, awaiting a spare kidney. The University of Sydney in conjunction with the Royal Prince Alfred hospital is conducting tissue research to match the victim with a donor.

I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized and well funded, has very skilled personnel and is currently operating in most major cities around the world and recently very active in Sydney. The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day. A person in the bar walks up; as they sit alone he offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bathtub, their body submerged to their neck in ice, is sipping that drink.

There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911. A phone is on the small table next to the bathtub for them to call. The business traveler calls 911 who have been quite familiar with this crime. The business travelers is instructed by the 911 operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from the back. The business traveler finds the tube and answers "YES". The 911 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the traveler's kidneys had been harvested.

An Email warning of "The Stolen Kidney"

An e-mail has been circling the internet over the past few years about this urban legend and it goes something like this;

Dear Friends: I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans. The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day. A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bath tub, their body submerged to their neck in ice, is sipping that drink. There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911. A phone is on a small table next to the bathtub for them to call. The business traveler calls 911 who have become quite familiar with this crime. The business travelers is instructed by the 911 operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their lower back. The business traveler finds the tube and answers, "Yes." The 911 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the business traveler's kidneys have been harvested. This is not a scam or out of a science fiction novel, it is real. It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful.

Regards Jerry Mayfield


Austin Ops Engineering Manager

From: Patty Radford@Desktop@PCPD Hou, on 12/16/96 10:33 AM:

Yes, this does happen. My sister-in-law works with a lady that this happened to her son's neighbor who lives in Houston. The only "good" thing to his whole story is the fact that the people doing this horrible crime are very in tune to what complications can happen afterwards because of the details precautions they take the time to set up before leaving the room. The word from my sister-in-law is that the hospital in Las Vegas (yes, Vegas) prior to transferring him back to Houston stated that these people know exactly what they are doing. The incision, etc. was exact and clean. They use sterile equipment etc. and the hospital stated that other than the fact that the victim looses a kidney there has not been any reports of other complications due to non-sterile, etc. tactics that were used.


Please be careful.

From: Kathy White@OS Dev@Sys Hou, on 12/13/96 3:25 PM:

Sadly, this is very true. My husband is a Houston Firefighter/EMT and they have received alerts regarding this crime ring. It is to be taken very seriously. The daughter of a friend of a fellow firefighter had this happen to her. Skilled doctors are performing these crimes! (Which, by the way have been highly noted in the Las Vegas area). Additionally, the military has received alerts regarding this.

This is not a scam or out of science fiction novel. It is real. It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful. Sadly, this is very true. My friend's husband is a Sydney EMT and they have received alerts regarding this crime ring. It is to be taken very seriously. The daughter of a friend of a fire-fighter had this happen to her. Skilled doctors are performing these crimes! (Which, by the way have been highly noted in the Brisbane area) Additionally, the military has received alerts regarding this. I REALLY WANT AS MANY PEOPLE TO SEE THIS AS POSSIBLE SO PLEASE BOUNCE THIS TO WHOEVER YOU CAN.

Moral to the scary story "The Kidney Thieves"

The moral of this story goes with tales of leaving a party with someone you do not know. The dangers of dating people you met online, or in a chat room, and meeting them later for a party or going home with them. As this urban legend is nothing but a scary story, it can bring to life the consequences of being alone with someone you do not know, or just met. This story being a fake, also brings to life, a true story that was happening late in the 1800s "Jack the Ripper" This story was a true story, and was happening in the White chapel district of London England. Other such stories or tales of "The Kidney Thieves" are; This classic hoax claims that a sinister gang of medically trained criminals are out and about harvesting kidneys from unwitting donors for subsequent sale on the black market. The tale has been around in one form or another for many years, but email and the Internet have given it new life and the perfect vehicle for propagation. And what a great little tale it is! A mini-horror story right there in your email in-box! It's not surprising that this email hoax has proved so resilient and enduring. It's the sort of tale that cries "share me!" Hence a piece of junk mail that should ideally be cast into binary oblivion once and for all keeps on keeping on. Versions of the message have been travelling via email and other means since at least 1997 and have been set in several countries.

According to the message, hapless partygoers or business travelers are drugged and subsequently wake up in a bathtub of ice and discover that their kidneys have been removed. They are warned by way of a written message left by the criminals that they will die if they do not seek help immediately. However, the tale is purely a work of fiction. In spite of the longevity of the rumor, no credible reports of such incidents have ever been recorded. According to America's National Kidney Foundation: A persistent rumor that has been circulating for the past ten years has recently been reborn on the Internet: a business traveler has a drink with a stranger and wakes up in a tub full of ice, minus one or both kidneys.

The foundation has received calls from concerned business travelers who have been warned by their travel agents to beware of the 'crime ring' when traveling. "It's an urban myth run amok," says Fred Herbert, chairman of the National Kidney Foundation. "There is no evidence that such activity has ever occurred in the United States," says Mr. Herbert. Although this story is unfounded and untrue, many who hear it believe that this could really happen. "It is unfortunate when inaccurate information is reported about the organ donor process," says Mr. Herbert. "In truth, transplanting a kidney from a living donor involves numerous compatibility tests that must be performed before the kidney is removed. So it's highly unlikely that a gang could operate in secrecy to recover organs that would be viable for a transplant," he explains. One early version of the hoax claimed that a kidney stealing gang was operating in the New Orleans area of the United States. However, the New Orleans Police Department issued the following statement denying the claims. January 30, 1997

Internet Subscribers: Over the past six months the New Orleans Police Department has received numerous inquiries from corporations and organizations around the United States warning travelers about a well organized crime ring operating in New Orleans. This information alleges that this ring steals kidneys from travelers, after they have been provided alcohol to the point of unconsciousness.

After an investigation into these allegations, the New Orleans Police Department has found them to be COMPLETELY WITHOUT MERIT AND WITHOUT FOUNDATION. Even if the tale was true, one wonders why criminals unscrupulous enough to steal a person's kidneys for profit would go to the trouble of trying to save the life of their victim by leaving him or her in an ice bath. Dead men tell no tales.

Many thousands of people around the planet are waiting for organ transplants. The Kidney Foundation notes that this ridiculous hoax may "affect the public's willingness to become organ donors". Please do not forward it.