Kidney donor jailed over child support


Thursday, October 28, 2004 Posted: 4:24 PM EDT (2024 GMT)

Kidney transplant patient Bob Hickey, 58, left, greets his kidney donor, Robert Smitty, 32, on October 21.

CLEVELAND, Tennessee (AP) -- A man who donated a kidney to someone he met over the Internet was jailed Thursday for failing to pay child support.

Rob Smitty, 32, surrendered to sheriff's deputies, accompanied by his attorney, who warned that Smitty was still taking medication following the October 20 surgery.

After the operation, news surfaced that Smitty was being sought on a civil warrant for failing to pay child support.

Attorney Bill Speek said Smitty would remain in jail until bail is set or he pays a portion of the $8,100 he owes his ex-wife, who has custody of their 10-year-old daughter.

Smitty's arrest came eight days after he gave a kidney to Bob Hickey, a Colorado man who had been waiting for a transplant since 1999. The two men met through, a Web site created to match organ donors and recipients for a fee.

The operation was believed to be the first organ transplant arranged through a commercial Web site.

Doctors went ahead with the procedure only after receiving assurances neither man stood to profit from the operation, which would violate federal law.

Smitty, a former commercial photographer who works for a meat company, has said Hickey provided money to help cover expenses and compensate him for missed work.