13 Famous Kidney Stoners

It turns out that kidney stones do not discriminate. Famous historical figures, celebrities, and other notable persons have also suffered from stones. Here, in no particular order, is an unlucky list of 13 of your fellow “kidney stoners”.



1. William Shatner in 2006 sold a kidney stone he passed for $75k. He donated the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity. He sold the stone to GoldenPalace.com, which added it to their collection of oddities.  According to MSNBC, The stone was so big, Shatner said, “you’d want to wear it on your finger.”




2. Tim Burton missed the British Independent Film Awards in Dec 2011, leaving his wife, Helena Bonham Carter, to go it alone. She told the audience, “My dear boyfriend, who sadly is not here… he is pushing out a kidney stone as we speak.” According to the director, he planned to display the stone along with his awards.





3. Alfred Hitchcock had to undergo surgery for kidney stones in 1975, delaying the shooting of his movie The Rainbird Pattern.





4. Michelangelo was diagnosed and treated for uric acid stones in 1549 by Realdo Colombo, an anatomist.  He apparently suffered from recurrent kidney stones. It was also proposed that he may have died from kidney failure related to kidney stones.




5. Roger Moore, aka James Bond, experienced three kidney stone episodes. He says of his first experience in 1961, “It was excruciating, diabolical agony; I had my knees under my chin”. This stone was treated with open surgery. His second two stone episodes also occurred on movie sets, Live and Let Die and Moonraker.





6. Billy Joel was hospitalized for kidney stones several times, including one episode in Toronto in 1994 in which he successfully passed the stone.





7. Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (also known as Napoleon III), nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, also suffered from kidney stones. The stones caused agonizing pain preventing him from sitting on a horse. Because he wasn’t able to lead his troops to victory like his famous uncle, he had difficulty living up to his namesake. In 1878 he underwent surgery for his stones and died shortly afterward, likely from infectious complications.


8. Benjamin Franklin suffered from a large bladder stone, which caused such significant pain that it caused him to be bed-ridden for a year’s time prior to his death. In 1787 he first wrote of his stone, “As to my malady, … I am sensible that it is grown heaver, but on the whole it does not give me more pain than when at Passy, and except in standing, walking, or making water, I am very little incommoded by it.” It is not clear whether he had kidney stones as well.




9. Sir Isaac Newton recorded that he passed two small pea sized stones in 1724. In 1727, he died at the age of 84 from complications due to, and in significant pain from, a large bladder stone.






10. John McCain, according to medical records released during his presidential campaign in 2008, has a history of recurrent kidney stones for which he takes the medication hydrochlorothiazide.



11. Jan De Doot, a Dutch blacksmith, was said to have performed a surgery on himself to remove a bladder stone. A painting from 1655 by Carel de Savoyen depicts Doot, holding his knife and bladder stone. His approach was to make an incision below the scrotum directly into the bladder, find the stone, and extract it. He had his brother help him in the surgery by holding the scrotum aside. de Doot apparently had already experienced two of these surgeries by lithotomists before performing his third “diy” surgery. It is from them that he likely learned the technique.




12. Gene Simmons of the band Kiss, like William Shatner, also sold a kidney stone he passed. In 2009, Simmons sold his for $15,000 on ebay. Like Shatner, he also donated the proceeds to charity.






13. United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner developed a kidney stone attack in December of 2010, requiring surgery to treat it.



About Dr. Mike Nguyen

Mike M Nguyen, MD, MPH, is a urologist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones with both surgery and dietary prevention and the in the treatment of kidney and prostate cancer using the latest robotic surgical approaches. He sees patients at clinics located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and La Canada, CA. He is the founder of the www.KidneyStoners.org website.
This entry was posted in Information. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 13 Famous Kidney Stoners

  1. The inspiration for creating Beat Kidney Stones was Margaret who passed 47 kidney stones over her last 29 years. Some stones were so painful for Margaret that losing consciousness happened regularly. Margaret even had to pass a kidney stone whilst being terminally ill with cancer at the age of 69.

  2. Hello everyone,
    On the 12.12.16 a Charity based in England and Wales was registered with the Registration Number 1170678 and called Beat Kidney Stones.
    The objectives of this Charity are to, “Promote and protect the health of sufferers of kidney stones through the provision of financial assistance, support, education and practical advice and to advance knowledge in all areas Reg lying to kidney stones by funding research into kidney stones.
    The web site is http://www.beatkidneystones.co.uk

  3. Pingback: National Kidney Month, Ann Taylor and the Home Depot | RoundUP

  4. VanessaMD says:

    I’ve passed over 200 stones up to 7mm in size. They’re so much more painful than anything else I have been through and that includes 7 labor and deliveries without any pain meds or epidurals. I have passed many 5mm stones without any pain medicine at all because doctors can be insensitive and and a lot of times do not believe there is really a real reason for the pain. I am just so lucky that the majority of my stones don’t show up on CT scans because of their density. *rolls eyes*. I really feel bad for people that had to go through this without some kind of medical intervention. I can honestly relate to the one person that operated on himself.
    Dear Liz, two years late but I do hope you have not passed anymore stones.

  5. Liz says:

    I went to the emergency room last night having a kidney attack- did a cat scan and discovered I have a large stone that is having a hard time passing into the bladder. I also have others that are smaller-
    If this large stone does pass into the bladder- my worry is HOW will it pass from the bladder?
    Sincerely worried

  6. Liz says:

    I went to the emergency room last night hving a kidney attack- did a cat scan and discovered I have a large stone that is having a hard time passing into the bladder. I also have others that are smaller-
    If this large one passes into the bladder- my worry is HOW will it pass from the bladder?
    Sincerely worried

Leave a Reply to Liz Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *