Friday, 15 March 2013

DO YOU REMEMBER 'THE KIDNEY'?

Once such big news around the world

Not really a CE story at all

Briefly, a father wanted CE for his daughter. The local education authority declined to fund this. The father then offered one of his kidneys for auction on eBay (it is illegal to sell organs in the UK) in order to to purchase CE privately. In end money was raised by donation, £57,000 at 1994 prices, and the girl went off to Ingfield Manor a residential school run by the charity Scope.  End of story? Not quite.

The story broke in December 2003 and went swiftly viral, not just in the UK's media but also in media around the world, and on the Internet. This was the last major national news story featuring CE in the United Kingdom – though it was more a shock-horror organ-transplant story than a CE one. The media were no longer interested in questions of what is Conductive Education (and what is not), or even that CE had been 'controversial', the supposed research evidence did not emerge as an issue, nor did the movement to establish conductive practice across the country. All that has been 'done', and was therefore by definition no longer news, Attempt to draw the attention round to matters conductive were not successful

At that point in the process of Conductive Education's internationalisation, a degree of common awareness of CE's developments was offered on line through the pages of Conductive Chronicle. At the time newspapers and broadcast media were beginning to go on line, where much the record of what was said remains readily accessible if you know where to look. This was a fascinating and puzzling story at the time and the Chronicle's restrained running summary offers a window into a lost world in which this saga in the press did no favours to Conductive Education's already tarnished and contradictory public reputation

Conductive Chronicle shut down at the end of 2004. It therefore missed reporting what looks to have been the drama's final public denouement, in that final burial place for so many previous minor media personalities, a two-page human-interest exposé in the Daily Mail. Most people in Conductive Education will not have seen this and I am still asked 'What happened about that kidney?'

The kidney's tale

Briefly, a father wanted CE for his daughter. The local education authority declined to fund this. The father then offered one of his kidneys for sale (illegal in the UK) to purchase CE privately. In end money was raised by donation (£57,000 at 1994's prices) and went on a year's fees at Ingfield Manor School, a residential School run by Scope.

Here are Conductive Chronicle's consecutive reports of the confusing blur of media coverage over those few months. Some of the media reports and discussions linked to are now dead, most are still there.
Man to sell kidney to buy daughter CE: major Conductive Education news story breaking world-wide, Conductive Chronicle, 2 December, 2003
http://web.archive.org/web/20040814103628/http://www.conductive-education.org/news/041203KID.htm
Kidney story back in media, Conductive Chronicle, 24 February 2004
http://web.archive.org/web/20040821171335/http://www.conductive-education.org/news/200204_KID.htm 
The Observer: tiny correction, Conductive Chronicle, 2 April 2004
http://web.archive.org/web/20040815200112/http://www.conductive-education.org/news/080304_OBS.htm
The kidney: a chapter closes? Conductive Chronicle, 15 April, 2004
http://web.archive.org/web/20040514052516/http://www.conductive-education.org.uk/news/150404_KID.htm
(A search tip: if an archived link does not come up immediately when you click on it, wait for a few seconds the try again)

Aftermath

Case apparently closed. The media lost interest. Conductive Chronicle ceased publication. Real life went on, with the Daily Mail there to rake it over.
Cable, A. (2006) The father who claimed he would sell a kidney to help his daughter, Daily Mail, 3 August
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-398737/The-father-claimed-sell-kidney-help-daughter.html#ixzz2Nb5wQgPd 
The Mail files this story under 'Health'.

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