Traveler Wakes Up in a Bathtub of Ice to Discover Both of His Kidneys Have Been Stolen



Summary of eRumor:

There are various versions (such as the one below), but they all talk about a traveling businessman or a tourist who becomes involved with someone from the area where he is visiting.  The next thing he remembers, he’s awakening in a bathtub full of ice.  He either reads a note that informs him that his kidneys have been harvested for an organ transplant, or he picks up the phone and reaches either the hotel operator or the police.  Through the phone call, he learns that his kidneys have been removed by medical crooks and he discovers the stitched wounds where the surgery took place.  Emergency personnel arrive on the scene to give him first-aid and take him to a hospital where he is described as being on a transplant waiting list.

The Truth:

This is a story that has been so widely circulated and for so long, that it is regarded by researchers as a classic urban legend.  There is not a documented case of a tourist being drugged and hijacked by medical thieves.  The person who’s name is at the bottom of the email below, by the way, is not the originator of the email.  Her name is being falsely attached to a large number of the emails being sent about this story. A real story that is related
Interestingly, there is a reported case of a stolen kidney, but not to an unwary tourist.  BBC reporter Sue Lloyd Roberts has done a special report on the buying and selling of human organs In Turkey (BBC 1/8/01).  She says that the Moldovan village of Minghia has become known as the world’s best source human kidneys.  That’s because villagers have been willing to sell one of their kidneys to surgeons who make a profit on them for transplant patients, especially in Israel.  Roberts tells the story of a young engineer who went to Istanbul on the promise of a job.  When he got there, he was told that the job was no longer available, but that he could get some cash by selling some of his blood.  Apparently he was not suspicious that giving blood would be treated as a surgical procedure, but when he awakened, he had a scar and a missing kidney and was told that he could get the going rate for Moldovan kidneys, $3,000. 

Last updated 8/4/01

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Subject: FW: For your safety


This is a true story, it has been confirmed, the Medical Centre phone number at the end of this story is real! 

A friend in Australia rang it to confirm it, as he did not believe the story to begin with either. 

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

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 000 or YOU’LL DIE” written on it with lipstick. He saw a phone was on a stand next to the bathtub so he picked it up & dialled. He explained to the EMS operator what the situation was & 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 he appeared normal, so she told him to check his back. He did, he found two 9 inch slits on his lower back. She told him to get back into 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 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 & it was not just reacreational drugs he was given. Regardless, he 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 travellers. This ring is well organised and well funded, has very skilled personnel & is currently operating in most major cities around the world and recently very active in Sydney. 

The crime begins when a business traveller 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 traveller 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 000. A phone is on the small table next to the bathtub for them to call. The business traveller calls 000 who have been quite familiar with this crime. The business traveller is instructed by the 000 operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their back. The business traveller finds the tube and answers “YES”. The 000 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the traveller’s kidneys had been harvested. 

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. 


Michele Shafer DML/Lab Administration, Medical Manager Research & Development, 99 Missenden RD, Camperdown, Sydney2000 Tel: (02) 95156111; Fax: (02) 94621505 PLEASE forward this to everyone you know.