Friday, October 5, 2007

Robbing the Dead


I can't believe this could actually happen in today's so called civilized world!

Yes, there are crooks and swindlers in every industry, but if the allegations that are being made are true these people should be hung.....simple as that, hung.

Funeral Directors carry a HUGE responsibility with the job that they do. They are supposed to be ethical, moral, forthright individuals who care for the deceased bodies that they are entrusted with, not just for their families. These are the bodies of mothers, fathers, children....PEOPLE! No one has the right to use a deceased body for their benefit or gain; period.

MSNBC broke a story about a "ring" of 3 funeral directors, a former dentist who ran an organ harvesting corporation, and a former nurse who ran the harvesting crew of that corporation who were all dealing in body parts. This was not your typical donation of organs, this was stealing from the dead to line their pockets; stealing dignity. According to the article there was no authorization of any kind which allowed them to remove any parts of these bodies, nor was there any respect given to the deceased bodies prior to or after their filthy deeds. Not only were they stealing from the dead but they were also distributing tainted body parts, bone, skin and tissue for public use (see full story). This is sick.

Apparently, there were 3 funeral directors from Philadelphia who over the course of time have sold 244 bodies for about $1,000 each to a New York businessman (businessman, my ass!) who resold these often diseased body parts. This businessman (see full story) is already facing charges in New York for doing the same thing with an additional 833 bodies some years ago!

The claim states that the funeral directors forged death certificates stating that the deceased persons had died of heart attacks or blunt trauma death but were otherwise healthy. One of these bodies turned out to be HIV positive, had hepatitis C and a form of cancer. They supposedly lowered the "donors" ages and changed their dates of death to make it appear as if the parts were fresher.

Nothing could make me sicker than this story. I had hoped to hell it wasn't true but several have already plead guilty so my hope of that is dashed.

This is not the fault of the funeral industry and certainly not mine nor a reflection of the majority of the members of this profession. I must however try to express my condolences and apologies to the families that have been brutalized by these pieces of crap that pose as professionals and have the unmitigated gall to call themselves human beings.

14 comments:

MedStudentWife said...

No need to apologize DS

- these people were sick opportunists. Unfortunately, this world is full of them - in every profession.

Lisa McGlaun said...

This is so sad. I don't know what to say...but I did want you to know that I read it and was moved by what you had to say.

karen said...

This is unfathomable, but fortunately I think it is truly an isolated incident. I don't think I am naive in trusting that most Funeral Directors are ethical, reputable gentlemen. Clearly you have reverence for the task in which you have been entrusted.

Anonymous said...

This story has been well reported for over a year now, especially in all of the funeral trade publications. Just FYI.

deathsweep said...

Well anonymous, I want to thank you for pointing that out however I too am aware of that fact. I'm just tired of hearing more and more about it as it CONTINUES to occur!

paisley said...

what i don't understand is how would these parts still work??? if they guy was dead enough to be in the morgue wouldn't his parts be really dead too???

deathsweep said...

I know what you mean paisly but there is always a window of time after death when organs can and are harvested. Refrigeration and moisture (eyes) lengthen that time as well. From what I can gather though, it was mostly bone and skin that were taken. I don't profess to be an expert but perhaps there is a longer "shelf life" for lack of a better term on these particular organs. I need to find out for sure and I'll give you a clearer answer.

deathsweep said...

Paisley, according to Golden State Donor Services website's FAQ section,

http://www.gsds.org/facts/index.html

the following information is provided - I think this should answer your question.


Q: WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM TIME SPAN BETWEEN RECOVERING ORGANS/TISSUES AND TRANSPLANTATION?

A: The approximate maximum time for the following organs/tissues is:

Heart-lung (4-6 hours); Lung (4-6 hours); Heart (4-6 hours); Liver (24 hours); Pancreas (24 hours); Kidney (72 hours); Corneas (14 days); Bone (5 years); Skin (5 years); Heart valves (10 years).

Agnes Mildew said...

Heavens, what a macabre story. It is like the Body Snatchers of the 18th century.

What seems to be the most cruel out of all of it is the false hope some families must get from organs and then discover they are diseased or not functioning to the best ability - to get another setback must be heartbreaking.

It's a heinous crime and I hope the perpetrators are given the justice they deserve.

Ryan said...

Has anyone read "Chop Shop" by Kathy Braidhill? It's an out of print paperback, but you can find it for a few bucks on Half.com. It's the true story (circa 1986) of Lamb FH in Pasadena, CA, and details how funeral home owner David Lamb harvested organs from bodies destined for cremation and then squeezed as many of the mutilated corpses as possible into a crematory retort. His crematory (just across the state line in Nevada) wasn't even legit and operated in a warehouse under the name "Oscar's Ceramics." Truly unbelievable. Lamb was a violent person as well, and was responsible for beatings and possibly a murder, although he escaped the most serious charges. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this topic.

LadyBanana said...

This sounds like a story from a sick movie, not something that is actually happening in reality.

How can such "humans" sleep at night...

Mark Dykeman said...

Terrible stuff.

It does make me recall a Harper's Magazine article about people who sell cadavers for medical and research purposes. For example, they might be sold to surgeons or their employers so they can practice surgical techniques. And I thought THAT was morbid. Harvesting organs for transplants... really doesn't much for the perps respect for life and the human body.

deathsweep said...

Oh the harvesting of organs is quite common, quite legal and quite helpful, but.....one needs to have permission to do this otherwise no matter what good it's doing someone else it's basically mutilation.

Matty said...

Well I'm glad you wrote a post about it...I for one did not hear about this. You imagine that its a work of fiction not real.....and then you find out the horrible truth. How sad and shocking to think that happens today. Where do we draw the line?
These people should be jailed for a long time. Absolutely sickening!