REUTERS BOUGHT HUMAN BODY PARTS FOR EXPOSE
Reuters confirmed that the news agency had bought two human heads and part of a human spine. The purchases were a part of its investigation for “body brokers.” Body Brokers is an expose looking into the vendors of human body parts, a mostly unregulated industry. A Reuters reporter, Brian Grow, was able to arrange the purchases just using email. Reuters bought the two human heads and the human spine for $300 a piece, literally, plus shipping.
HUMAN SPINE, HUMAN HEADS BOUGHT CASUALLY
Reuters investigation revealed 34 current and active “body brokers” operating in the United States. Most of them function as for-profit businesses. In a four-year period from 2011 to 2015, it’s estimated that those businesses received 50,000 bodies to sell. Brokers chopped those 50,000 bodies into 182,000 human parts. Those were shipped across the US.
REUTERS BOUGHT HUMAN PIECES, EXPOSING HORROR
A single human body is chop-shopped in pieces worth only $3,000 to $5,000 on the market. But single pieces like human heads or a human spine sell for hundreds of dollars only. So why were there 182,000 sales of human parts over a four-year period? Universities and other institutions need the parts for research. They use a “anatomy bequest program” to get access to the body parts. Donors would have agreed to the arrangements when they were still alive.
MORTICIANS GREASED SUPPLY FOR HUMAN CHOP SHOPS
Funeral homes have become known for questionable business practices, and pricing. The funeral home industry used to make a lot of money on cremation services. But demand for cremation services has plummeted . Death services like funeral homes can now tell clients that they can donate their family member’s body to a broker. Many people clearly take the advice, both to save money and because they are helping research. But these bodies are capital, with brokers kicking back a referral fee of $300 to $1,400 to the morticians.
LOVED ONES BODIES BECOME CHOP SHOP ASSETS
When Reuters bought the two human heads and the human spine, they cracked open a rotten barrel. The for-profit marketplace for human remains has created horrific practices. There is virtually no oversight to speak of. One example Reuters uncovered was a woman who received her father’s ashes. The mortician gave her sand, not her father’s ashes. The mortician had “improperly stored” his body, she learned weeks later.
FRAUD AND DISMEMBERMENT
But there was follow up the human spine that Reuters bought. Reuters had the spine DNA tested to identify who the spine had belonged to. The spine belonged to a man whose mother was horrified to learn of the truth. Brokers told her they were “just taking skin samples.” Instead they chopped his body up and sold it on the market. But Reuters bought the human spine. So keep this in mind if you need to make hard decisions about loved one’s body.