Human Corpses Harvested In
On February 24, Ukrainian authorities made an alarming discovery: bones and other human tissues crammed into coolers in a grimy white minibus.
From day one, everything was forged; everything, because we could. As long as the paperwork looked good, it was fine
Investigators grew even more intrigued when they found, amid the body parts, envelopes stuffed with cash and autopsy results written in English.
Bottles of human tissue labelled ”Made in Germany, Tutogen” that were were seized by Ukrainian authorities. MykolaivSeizure1.jpg
What the security service had disrupted was not the work of a serial killer but part of an international pipeline of ingredients for medical and dental products that are routinely implanted into people around the world.
The seized documents suggested that the remains of dead Ukrainians were destined for a factory in Germany belonging to the subsidiary of a US medical products company, Florida-based RTI Biologics.
RTI is one of a growing industry of companies that make profits by turning mortal remains into everything from dental implants to bladder slings to wrinkle cures. The industry has flourished even as its practices have roused concerns about how tissues are obtained and how well grieving families and transplant patients are informed about the realities and risks of the business.
”I was in shock” … Kateryna Rahulina says she did not give permission for the body of her mother Olha to be harvested. Photo: Konstantin Chernichkin/Kyiv Post
In the US alone, the biggest market and the biggest supplier, an estimated two million products derived from human tissue are sold each year, a figure that has doubled over the past decade.
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). It’s also an industry fuelled by powerful appetites for bottom-line profits and fresh human bodies.
In the Ukraine, for example, the security service believes that bodies passing through a morgue in the Nikolaev district, the gritty shipbuilding region located near the Black Sea, may have been feeding the trade, leaving behind what investigators described as potentially dozens of “human sock puppets” — corpses stripped of their reusable parts.
Industry officials argue that such alleged abuses are rare, and that the industry operates safely and responsibly.
For its part, RTI didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment or to a detailed list of questions provided a month before this publication.
In public statements the company says it “honours the gift of tissue donation by treating the tissue with respect, by finding new ways to use the tissue to help patients and by helping as many patients as possible from each donation”.
Despite its growth, the tissue trade has largely escaped public scrutiny. This is thanks in part to less-than-aggressive official oversight — and to popular appeal for the idea of allowing the dead to help the living survive and thrive.
An eight-month, 11-country investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found, however, that the tissue industry’s good intentions sometimes are in conflict with the rush to make money from the dead.
Inadequate safeguards are in place to ensure all tissue used by the industry is obtained legally and ethically, ICIJ discovered from hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of public documents obtained through records requests in six countries.
- Human corpses harvested in multimillion-dollar trade (pakalertpress.com)
- Lucrative trade – in corpses (smh.com.au)
- Australia drawn into net of grisly illegal trade in harvested human tissue (theage.com.au)
- ICIJ: Body Brokers Leave Trail Of Questions, Corruption (huffingtonpost.com)
- Human corpses harvested in multimillion-dollar trade (inpursuitofhappiness.wordpress.com)
- Human corpses harvested in multimillion-dollar trade (thetruthseeker.co.uk)
- Revealed: grisly trade in body parts (smh.com.au)
- Easier to sell than hot dogs: the human tissue industry revealed (thebureauinvestigates.com)
- Body wranglers profit from human corpses (openchannel.msnbc.msn.com)
- Inside the corpse-harvesting industry (boingboing.net)
- Skin, bones and tissue for sale: How the dead are being used for grisly trade in human body parts (dailymail.co.uk)
- Body wranglers at work: Inside the global trade in human corpses (openchannel.msnbc.msn.com)
- Interpol vows to track body-parts trade (theage.com.au)
Filed under: news Tagged: | Black Sea, Center for Public Integrity, Florida, Germany, Human Corpses Harvested In Multimillion-Dollar Trade, Kateryna Rahulina, Tutogen, Ukraine, Ukrainian, united states