Report: Dead Harvested for Products : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sorry if this an objectional post. Passed it up a couple of times But have never seen this reported before. Can have it deleted. No y2k connection or anything else for that matter.


Report: Dead Harvested for Products

.c The Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (April 16) - Donated human remains are processed into medical products that generate hundreds of millions of dollars for U.S. companies despite laws barring profit from body parts, The Orange County Register reported Sunday.

Although grieving families are told that the donations are a gift of life, the newspaper found that material harvested from the dead fuels an industry that is expected to have $1 billion in revenues by 2003.

''I thought I was donating to a nonprofit. I didn't know I was lining someone's pocket,'' said Sandra Shadwick, whose brother's remains were given to a Los Angeles tissue bank. ''It makes me angry. It makes me appalled. If it's not illegal, it ought to be.''

The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 banned profits from the sale of tissue, but companies and nonprofit tissue banks are allowed to charge reasonable fees to handle and process the parts. The law does not define a reasonable charge.

''The law has never been tested in court. Nobody has ever decided what is selling and what isn't,'' said Jeanne Mowe, executive director of the American Association of Tissue Banks.

Nonprofit tissue banks may obtain body parts useful for up to 100 patients from a single cadaver. The parts are then sold to companies that make products used by doctors and dentists, and the banks and businesses share revenues.

Survivors urged to donate usually are told about vital organs, such as hearts or kidneys, but most of the products derived from the dead are far from lifesaving: Cadaver skin may be used to puff up the lips of models, enlarge penises or smooth out wrinkles, the newspaper said.

A single body can provide material that is worth up to $34,000 for nonprofit tissue banks, including skin, tendons, heart valves, veins and corneas that are then made available to doctors and hospitals for up to $110,000.

With bone taken from the same body, a cadaver can be worth $220,000.

''People who donate have no idea tissue is being processed into products that per gram or per ounce are in the price range of diamonds,'' said Arthur Caplan, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics.

Lives are enhanced by donations: Tendons help athletes, cadaver skin helps solve bladder problems and corneas help the blind to see, said Michael Jeffries, chief financial officer for Osteotech Inc., a leader in the bone business.

''There is a profit,'' he said. ''It's not an evil thing because the profit is put to good use.''

The two largest for-profit tissue companies had $142.3 million in sales last year and each pays its chief executive more than $460,000 annually, the newspaper said. The four largest nonprofit tissue banks will make $261 million in sales this year, it said.

The number of organ and tissue donors increased 172 percent nationwide over the past five years, according to the American Association of Tissue Banks.

Last fall, Vice President Al Gore announced $5 million in grants to organ and tissue agencies.

''I did not know that the amount of money involved was as large as you have pointed out,'' Gore told the Register in a recent telephone interview.

AOL news no url.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 16, 2000


The most disturbing thing is that a politician like Gore should be so unaware of the actual situation before proposing legislation to benefit this industry. Again, Gore, Bush, etc., rely on the well paid industry lobby for their information. As long as a healthy campaign contribution is included, no questions are asked. A similiar situation is occurring with the H1B visa (high tech) bill now in Congress which the administration is supporting. There is no high tech labor shortage, but the industry wants this so the politicians are all for it even if it hurts the U. S. voters.

-- K (, April 17, 2000.

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