The Man Who Lost His Name and His Genetic Identity

For privacy advocates, the name “Eric Drew” immediately evokes a few images: a man expected to die of leukemia, a sleazy lab tech stealing his details and using it for ID theft, and Drew doing battle — against the leukemia, against the ID thief, and then against credit reporting agencies who refused to clear his credit even after the ID thief was convicted.

David Kushner of Discover has written a feature story on Drew. Here’s just a small snippet from the fascinating story:

During his treatment in Seattle, he began getting strange calls from credit card companies thanking him for his application. Drew shrugged it off as best he could until the collection agents started arriving at his door. There were a half dozen accounts opened in his name, with almost $10,000 in charges. “Please stop this!” Drew told one of the banks on the phone. “I’m in a hospital dying!”

But there was no stopping this thief. Here Drew was, on the verge of death, and someone was stripping away his last shred of humanity. He felt that his identity was being taken on every level. The disease was robbing him of his life. Some criminal was stealing his identity. And the medical system had swiped his individuality. He wasn’t even Eric Drew anymore; at the hospital, they just called him Patient Room 232.

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