Trigger warning–dead bodies discussed.
I recently read a Reuters article that absolutely horrified me as a person, while also intriguing my crime novelist self.
I’ll let you read the article to know why:
How the body of an Arizona great-grandmother ended up as part of a U.S. Army blast test
SURPRISE, Arizona – Jim Stauffer thought he was doing the right thing.
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.
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.
Rest of the article, here.
So many questions, and thoughts. A part of me recoils at this misuse of donated bodies. I personally know people who donated their bodies to science, and it makes me wonder if their bodies were handled in the way intended.
The practical crime writer part of me says a body is a body, and once a person is dead, they couldn’t care less about what happened to it. But the more empathetic author self thinks of the relatives and friends left behind, and that they were cheated of the experience of being able to grieve over the body of their loved one as per tradition, all so that the body could be blown apart in experiments they hadn’t given permission for.
I don’t have the right access for all the research a novel set in this background would need, but it sure would make a horror-crime premise worth reading.
Having worked on a gory novel, I’m all about dark topics this week, which is why I added a trigger warning on top.
What about you? Ever heard of donating bodies to science? Of body brokers selling these bodies for uses not intended? If you don’t care for dark, gory discussions, tell us about your week, or how the weather is like where you are, or your plans for the coming week!
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The deceased and their families being taken for a ride. This is terrifying and disgusting. Neither the living nor the dead matter.
That is disgusting and horrifying, not to mention degrading to the corpse and its family. The big boys that will do anything for money, scamming bereaved people is just repulsive. 🙁
Hi Damyanti – I know when my mother was diagnosed terminally ill and in due course unlikely to live – so I ask re donating her organs and was told ‘No – they wouldn’t be appropriate’ – I guess too old … but I’d never thought about this aspect … yes cutting people open to get out a kidney, but this no no no … I can imagine it would make an horrific novel … my mind is now working overtime … thank you!! Cheers and all the best – Hilary
Oh my. I’ve never heard of body brokering but it sounds pretty horrible and deceitful. Wonder how that company explains itself.
IKR? I was horrified 🙁
That is a shocking revelation Damyanti
It truly is, Ian. The thought of bodies not being used for what they signed up for, really startled me.
I hate to admit this but….nothing surprises or shocks me anymore.
I empathize with your perspective!
Exactly! This is wrong on so many levels 🙁
Yes that is creepy. What some people will do for a buck. I guess the big problem is the deception. Relatives want the dead body treated with respect despite, well, it being dead. Then someone deceives them for money. A contract is broken.
We truly do live in a horrible world 🙁
Shudder: There is always someone, making a profit in an unethical way. I hadn’t heard of body brokers but sadly am not surprised.
I agree 🙁 I’m appalled by this!
That’s really terrible. Not surprising but still terrible.
Yes, Alex. This is horrible 🙁
I have heard of it, as well as the deceit. I guess if I donated the body, I’d never try to confirm it was used as I wanted, because what could I do?
It truly is a scary thought, Jacqui. I know we are just bodies at the end of the day, from a very cold but practical point of view. But I’d like to have a say at least.
Crikey that’s terrible, talk about scrap value.
Truly Horrendous 🙁