Alistair Cook’s corpse illegally harvested for tissue
Do you know where your penis implant came from? How about your new cornea? Or that bone anchor you just received from your dentist?
In an article published this week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the true and horrifying extent of the global market for human tissue is laid bare.
“It is an industry that promotes treatments and products that literally allow the blind to see (through cornea transplants) and the lame to walk (by recycling tendons and ligaments for use in knee repairs),” writes the ICIJ. “It's also an industry fueled by powerful appetites for bottom-line profits and fresh human bodies.”
As the world’s largest supplier of medical products, the U.S. conducts minimum oversight on the industry. Suppliers merely need to register with the FDA. “Yet of the 340 foreign tissue establishments registered with the FDA, only about 7 percent have an inspection record in the FDA database.”
The result is a black market of human product, obtained illegally and without permission, often papered over with bogus documentation, and then sold without adequate testing for pathogens including HIV and Hepatitis.
Following an investigation in the Ukraine, Lubov Frolova was informed by police that her son’s cadaver had been stripped in a criminal harvesting operation.
“Two ribs, two Achilles heels, two elbows, two eardrums, two teeth, and so on. I couldn’t read it till the end, as I felt sick,” she said. Frolova noticed something was wrong when his shoe fell off in the hearse, and there was no foot.
In one of the rare convictions obtained against tissue harvesters—Biomedical Tissue Services was busted in 2005 purchasing “raw material” from undertakers in New York and Pennsylvania at a cost of $1000 per cadaver—a weird factoid emerged:
“One of more than 1,000 bodies that were dismembered was that of the famous BBC broadcaster and Masterpiece Theatre host Alistair Cooke.”
You can follow Adrian Mack's contribution to the lobotomizing techno-nightmare known as Twitter at @AdrianMacked.