• The Organ Thieves

  • The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South
  • By: Chip Jones
  • Narrated by: JD Jackson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)

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The Organ Thieves  By  cover art

The Organ Thieves

By: Chip Jones
Narrated by: JD Jackson
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Publisher's Summary

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks meets Get Out in this “startling...powerful” (Kirkus Reviews) investigation of racial inequality at the core of the heart transplant race.

In 1968, Bruce Tucker, a Black man, went into Virginia’s top research hospital with a head injury, only to have his heart taken out of his body and put into the chest of a White businessman. Now, in The Organ Thieves, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Chip Jones exposes the horrifying inequality surrounding Tucker’s death and how he was used as a human guinea pig without his family’s permission or knowledge. 

The circumstances surrounding his death reflect the long legacy of mistreating African Americans that began more than a century before with cadaver harvesting and worse. It culminated in efforts to win the heart transplant race in the late 1960s. Featuring years of research and fresh reporting, along with a foreword from social justice activist Ben Jealous, “this powerful book weaves together a medical mystery, a legal drama, and a sweeping history, its characters confronting unprecedented issues of life and death under the shadows of centuries of racial injustice” (Edward L. Ayers, author of The Promise of the New South).

©2020 Chip Jones. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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What listeners say about The Organ Thieves

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not your story to tell

I have mixed feelings about an author who writes someone else's story for profit without buy in from the subject or the subject's family.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

False Advertising

If Bruce Tucker had been the one who needed the heart and Joseph Klett was the potential donor I am absolutely sure Humes and Lower would have done a lot more to locate his family before removing his heart/organs to transplant into a black man. This is the reason why minorities who were living during this period and are still around don’t fully trust doctors. These people got away with breaking the law, stealing organs and the law failed to punish them for their crimes. This story is very disturbing but that is not why I gave this book only 2-1/2 stars. I did that because of the false advertising. The title is The Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South but only about 10% of the book is devoted to that topic and other 90% is the history of organs transplant.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Pretty interesting

Pretty well written, highlighting various interesting parts of the social and medical world in the past.
It's definitely hard to hear (especially as a healthcare provider) that any human would be mistreated in the hospital in any way, but I guess that's the point.

The narrator's voice is lovely but he has an odd cadence, even when not quoting.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Historical truth in medicine

Fascinating and horrifying truth, explosive, especially for those who know MCV and its history and current status.

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  • CC
  • 05-13-22

Fascinating! Must read

Fascinating! Must read book about the origins of medical school, organ transplant, and the development of medical ethics. The subtitle says it all- truly a shocking story about race and defining death.

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Shameful History in detail

I just listened to The Organ Thieves for a book circle here in Richmond, Virginia. Two years ago my life was saved by surgeons at VCU Hospital, not long after a dying 26 year old friend received a new heart. I’ve lived in Richmond since 1976 with a vague awareness of some of this horrible history.The death of Bruce Tucker was unknown until I read the book. I’m unsurprised at the ongoing lack of greater acknowledgment of the callous treatment of so many human beings of color. JD Jackson is an excellent narrator.