Attack of the Mercenary Kidney Thieves

They’re out there. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting to strike at a moments notice. They’re renegade medical students, and they’re hell bent on stealing your kidneys and selling them on the blackmarket!

Or not.

The infamous kidney thieves are a classic urban legend, transported on to the net and given new life in the 21st century.

Here’s the original e-mail

Date Collected: October 1, 1999

This story came from the “Daily Texan” – the University of Texas newspaper. Apparently it occurred during Fall Premier — a UT tradition that is a celebration of the end of midterms.

“Reason not to party anymore”

This guy went out last Saturday night to a party. He was having a good time, had a couple of beers and some girl seemed to like him and invited him to go to another party. He quickly agreed and decided to go along with her.

She took him to a party in some apartment and they continued to drink, and even got involved with some other drugs (unknown which).

The next thing he knew, he woke up completely naked in a bathtub filled with ice. He was still feeling the effects of the drugs, but looked around to see he was alone. He looked down at his chest, which had “CALL 911 OR YOU WILL DIE” written on it in lipstick. He saw a phone was on a stand next to the tub, so he picked it up and dialed.

He explained to the EMS operator what the situation was and that he didn’t know where he was, what he took, or why he was really calling. She advised him to get out of the tub. He did, and she asked him to look himself over in the mirror.

He did, and appeared normal, so she told him to check his back. He did, only to find two 9 inch slits on his lower back. She told him to get back in the tub immediately, and they sent a rescue team over.

Apparently, after being examined, he found out more of what had happened.

His kidneys were stolen.

They are worth 10,000 dollars each on the black market. (I was unaware this even existed.) 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 he was given.

Regardless, he is currently in the hospital on life support, awaiting a spare kidney. The University of Texas in conjunction with Baylor University Medical Center is conducting tissue research to match the sophomore student with a donor.

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 traveler 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 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.

Sadly, this is very true. My friend Scott is a Baltimore County 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 doctor’s 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 story blew me away. I really want as many people to see this as possible so please bounce this to whoever you can.

Keya Atkins

General Agency Compensation

2 East Chase Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Tel. (410)685-2900×2172

Is this not one of the scariest things you have ever heard of? PLEASE forward this to everyone you know.

Like the serial killer lurking in the backseat of a woman’s car, or gang members who kill people who flash their high beams, the Kidney Thieves are one of the enduring archtypal urban legend in America. So enduring in fact, that when they made the horror movie Urban Legend, this was one of the horrific tales they chose to illustrate. In his book Too Good To Be True folklorist and hoax-debunker Jan Harold Brunvand tracked this hoax into the real world, pointing out that it circulated for years before making the jump to the net around 1997.

  • The National Kidney Foundation Debunks It: You’d think that if someone was stealing kidneys, an organization like the “National Kidney Foundation” would know about it. But if you go to their site, and do a search, the only thing you’ll find is a press release from 1997 debuking the hoax.
  • The Daily Texan Denies It: Admittedly, it took some digging through the Daily Texan’s Web archives, but I was finally able to find n article from 1997 that debunks this hoax outright — they never wrote this story and this didn’t happen to any University of Texas student.
    Student writer Lora Toothman had this to day: “I looked everywhere for information: a hospital dialysis unit, a university medical school, an organ bank, the Internet. While very few sources were willing to give me good hard facts, I gleaned enough information to tell you this: no one’s kidneys were stolen.”Face it, folks: transplant surgery is incredibly delicate, time-consuming work. Donors’ and recipients’ blood and tissue types have to be carefully matched. And even when they are carefully matched the recipients have to take powerful immune-suppressing drugs to prevent their bodies from rejecting the foreign organ. People going into surgery have to abstain from food for hours beforehand to avoid unpleasantness like asphyxiating on their own vomit while under anesthesia. The idea that a group of people is running around cutting out strangers’ kidneys (after said strangers have been drinking heavily) then throwing the people in tubs full of ice where they regain consciousness and manage to call emergency services is slightly ridiculous.”Unfortunately, the nature of the site’s search engine prevents me from linking directly to the story, but if you go to to the pagee and search for “kidney hoax”, you should find it just fine.
  • It happened to a friend of a friend: You’ll notice that the e-mail goes to great lengths to avoid mentioning verifiable victims, and that much of its “facts” were given by a “friend of a friend”. This is a classic element of most (all?) urban legends: none of them happened to you, or your friend, but your friend’s cousin’s friend, well, she’s fair game.

To learn more about this urban legend, read these debunkings:

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