As a funeral director every so often I was asked by a person or family to help with an anatomical bequest of a person who wanted to donate their body for medical research. I’m located between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, where the medical schools for those respective states are located. There was never any problem with those university institutions in clearing the paperwork for the future anatomical gift. And, I’m certain, when the time came, that those deceased human beings were treated with the utmost respect at those institutions.
That’s why it is so hard to come to grips with this story that came to light last week about an anatomical bequest body being used at a Portland, Oregon, event heralded as an “Oddities and Curiosity Expo”. An admission fee of $500 allowed participants to watch an autopsy in progress.
As you can read and watch from these following news items, the deceased was eventually identified as a 98-year old veteran whose family had no idea that his remains would be used in this fashion.
As a matter of fact, many of you probably received the e-mail that I did from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) encouraging us to stop this type of event and lobby for legislation to regulate the world of anatomical donation — especially the “for-profit” world of such. Here’s an NFDA flyer on how to help this cause.
It is easier for me to allow you to read and see publicity on this Portland event than for me to try to describe it to you. However, in my opinion, funeral directors need to step up and protect these families who become innocent victims of those who are unscrupulous in the “for-profit” anatomical bequest world.
Here are some news stories of the event and issue:
- Family of man dissected at autopsy event says they didn’t give consent. News video and print article. KING News 5 – Seattle (WA)
- Family finds dead grandfather being dissected at an “Oddities” event. Vice
- Live autopsy of Covid victim allegedly took place without families consent. Newsweek
More news from the world of Death Care:
- Russia’s cremation business sees investment boost as Covid mortality surges. The Moscow Times (Russia)
- Local funerals smaller, delayed, or virtual during Covid-19. Hawaii Business Magazine (HI)
- Leaking body fluids found in Tennessee mausoleum. WREG – TV Memphis (TN)
- Springwood Cemetery’s growth from neglected burying ground to historic landmark. Greenville Journal (SC)
- Agent’s license revoked for stealing insurance funds from Ohio funeral directors. WSYX ABC -6 Columbus (OH)
- ‘We didn’t want this in our neighborhood’. Birmingham residents concerned about crematory coming to Echo Highlands. Video news story and print article. WIAT TV-Birmingham (AL)
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