Friday, December 23, 2016
Hard to find an honest broker
And when that broker is shifting your late lamented granny from your designated Alzheimer's research to military research into what happens when bombs explode next to it for a profit, it could piss you off.
He had cared for his elderly mother, Doris, throughout her harrowing descent into dementia. In 2013, when she passed away at age 74, he decided to donate her brain to science. He hoped the gift might aid the search for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.Unlike the reusable body parts business, like kidneys & hearts, there is big money in whole bodies and parts used for non viable purposes and none of those pesky regulations that get everybody's panties in a twist. It's not just Potter's Field cast offs that get diverted and this means that real live people are affected if the result is known.
At a nurse’s suggestion, the family contacted Biological Resource Center, a local company that brokered the donation of human bodies for research. Within the hour, BRC dispatched a driver to collect Doris. Jim Stauffer signed a form authorizing medical research on his mother’s body. He also checked a box prohibiting military, traffic-safety and other non-medical experiments.
Ten days later, Jim received his mother’s cremated remains. He wasn't told how her body had been used.
Records reviewed by Reuters show that BRC workers detached one of Doris Stauffer’s hands for cremation. After sending those ashes back to her son, the company sold and shipped the rest of Stauffer’s body to a taxpayer-funded research project for the U.S. Army.
Her brain never was used for Alzheimer’s research. Instead, Stauffer’s body became part of an Army experiment to measure damage caused by roadside bombs.
Internal BRC and military records show that at least 20 other bodies were also used in the blast experiments without permission of the donors or their relatives, a violation of U.S. Army policy. BRC sold donated bodies like Stauffer’s for $5,893 each.
Army officials involved in the project said they never received the consent forms that donors or their families had signed. Rather, the officials said they relied on assurances from BRC that families had agreed to let the bodies be used in such experiments.
BRC, which sold more than 20,000 parts from some 5,000 human bodies over a decade, is no longer in business. Its former owner, Stephen Gore, pleaded guilty to fraud last year. In a statement to Reuters, Gore said that he always tried to honor the wishes of donors and sent consent forms when researchers requested them.
Jim Stauffer learned of his mother’s fate not from BRC or the Army but from a Reuters reporter. When told, Stauffer curled his lip in anger and clutched his wife Lisa’s arm.
“We did right,” Lisa reassured him. “They just did not honor our wishes.”
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