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special report - reuters buys human remains, and learns a donor\'s tragic story

by:SWIFT     2019-12-02
Townsend, Tennessee (Reuters)-
Cody Sanders was born in 1992 with a heart hole in a kidney failure.
His parents said that when he died on his 24 th birthday, he had 66 surgeries and more than 1,700 rounds of dialysis.
One day, he hid the pain in his optimistic selfie on Facebook.
A few days ago, he posed on the hospital bed with a bandage on his scarred chest.
Cody wrote on his Facebook profile that he is looking for a girlfriend who will accept \"me\" for me \".
He posted \"Am I ugly? \" on Christmas 2015 ? \".
Cody and his parents live in an old car home in a camp in eastern Tennessee.
When he was well, he worked with his father on the farm, fed cattle, put hay, and transported syrup from one barn to another on a dump truck.
On August 2, 2016, Cody died after a heart attack on his way home from dialysis.
Cody\'s parents, who were too poor to bury or cremate him, donated his son\'s body to an organization called \"Restoring American life.
The agency sells all or part of the donated bodies to researchers, universities, medical training facilities and others.
\"I can\'t afford anything else,\" father Richard explained . \".
A month after Cody\'s death, he returned to life and sold part of the young man\'s body: his cervical spine.
The deal will only require a couple of email transactions and $300 plus shipping charges.
It is not clear whether the buyer will resume life review.
But if the staff there verified the identity of their client, they would know that he was a Reuters reporter.
The news agency is trying to determine how easy it is to buy human parts and whether they are useful for medical research.
In addition to the spine, Reuters later bought two heads from Restore Life for $300 each.
These deals show the incredible ease of buying and selling human parts in the United States.
Lawyers, professors and government officials who closely followed the issue said that neither sales nor shipments violated any laws.
While it is illegal to sell organs for transplant, it is entirely legal to sell the body parts donated for research or education in most states.
Buying wine over the Internet can be said to be more tightly controlled and usually requires at least age proof.
In order to comply with legal, ethical and safety considerations prior to purchase, Reuters consulted Angela MacArthur, who directed the body donation program at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
She immediately kept her spine and head for Reuters and examined and stored them in medical school.
MacArthur said she was upset about how easy it was to acquire the body parts and the failure to resume her life with proper due diligence.
\"It\'s like the Wild West,\" MacArthur said . \".
\"Anyone can order these specimens and send them to their homes for whatever purpose they want.
McArthur examined the remains and the documents contained therein to determine how useful these parts are for medical research.
Her comments were based on national safety and ethical standards, which she helped draft by the American Association of organizational banks, the American Association of Clinical Anatomy and the University of Minnesota.
She concluded that the medical history provided to restore life was not enough and that the accompanying paperwork was sloppy and inadequate.
For these reasons, the specimens did not meet the standards of use at her university, she said.
\"I have never seen such a bad thing before,\" MacArthur said . \".
\"When we encounter this situation, I am concerned about the future of the donation of the remains and the trust of the public in the donation of the remains.
Life Recovery president James Bird contacted him a few months after the sale, briefly explaining his business approach.
\"I think organizations like us are responsible because, in particular, we have direct links with donor families,\" he said . \".
\"Because we have a personal relationship with them, there is a certain degree of respect and dignity there.
Bird then declined to give an interview or answer a written question.
But he criticized Reuters for buying in a statement.
\"It is clear that your team at Thomson Reuters does not care about those who seek help from our organization,\" he wrote . \".
\"You only want to hurt people who need help the most.
Byrd added that by providing body parts to researchers working on cancer, dementia and other diseases, it is really good to get back to life.
\"We have helped countless people through extensive research with the world --
\"Famous researchers,\" he wrote.
MacArthur said that, regardless of the good restoration of life by providing these body parts, its poor handling of the remains was \"very failed\" and was unable to serve researchers and three donors: cody Sanders and head bird sold to unidentified men and women from Reuters.
MacArthur said that the intentions of donor relatives in difficult times are noble and that they should get better returns from the industry.
\"People think they did the right thing and they want to fulfill the wishes of their loved ones,\" MacArthur said, who served as chairman of the Minnesota Endowment Committee, he also served on the leading committee of the American Association of Clinical Anatomy.
\"I know they feel exploited knowing that something like this has happened.
Thomas Champney, professor of anatomy at the Miller School of Medicine in Miami, was also shocked by the ease of sales.
\"Human parts should not be bought and sold like old refrigerators,\" he said . \".
Bird, 50, has been in the body parts business for 20 years.
The body agent, a native of eastern Tennessee, is running recently. up in a stand-
Comedy games are called the three most interesting people.
Golden Body City, Johnson City and the surrounding areas of Bristol.
Before opening up to \"restore life,\" Bird led a non-profit organization bank called \"American donation service\", which was then located near Memphis.
For several years, one of the major plastic clients of American donors has been a Texas company, which is affiliated with a company that distributes bone graft made partially from human tissue.
According to an affidavit in a civil suit, on 2005, a US donor turned to a new chief plastic surgery client.
New buyers have paid up to $10,000 per donor, provided a $200,000 credit line, and started managing the finances of US donors.
Soon after, Bird left the American donor agency, worked for a while at a vascular tissue bank, and then set up a \"life recovery\" in 2008 \".
Restore Life is headquartered in Elizabeth, Tennessee, mainly from people in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.
In return for the donation of the remains, the restoration of life will cremate the unused remains for free and return them to the family.
In a speech to the Commissioner in nearby Sullivan County on 2011, Bird spoke publicly about the restoration of life.
Officials there are frustrated by the rising cost of taxpayers to cremate the poor.
According to the minutes of that meeting, Bird explained that he could help the county.
He also noted that many families who donated to restore their lives did so for financial reasons: all expenses, including cremation, were included.
\"We have become a service for poor and poor households who can\'t afford funerals,\" Byrd told the commissioner . \".
\"This is perfect for situations where families do not have funds or sometimes leave them to county funding.
County officials said, \"the informal arrangement to resume life with the poor corpses adopted by Sullivan County continues today.
Several times a month, they say, forensic or other officials will refer pauper cases to bird for possible donations.
At 2011 meeting, County Prosecutor Dan Street said the formal arrangement with bird was unnecessary because officials simply pointed the poor to him and did not imply any recognition.
\"The company just came to get these bodies,\" Street told the commissioner . \".
\"We just let them do what private businesses do best.
\"Since its opening, according to the latest tax records submitted to the IRS, the recovery of life has grown almost every year.
According to records, Restore Life\'s annual income increased from $49,251 in 2009 to $1.
2016 1 million.
The record also showed an increase in revenue.
Spending exceeded $1,277 in 2009.
Last year, revenues were $187,884 higher than spending.
Tax records show that the charity\'s net assets were $354,556 in August.
31. 2016, record the last date available.
Bird lives and works in a small town in Tennessee, where the median household income is $30,000.
Tax records show that the nonprofit he runs paid him $113,000 last year.
Angie Sanders recalled that during her pregnancy there was no sign of trouble with her prenatal check-up
Ups or ultrasound.
But when Cody was born in August 2, 1992, he was in serious trouble.
He moved from County Hospital to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, where he stayed for three months.
He was diagnosed with VATER syndrome, a disease involving multiple birth defects.
Except for the hole in the heart and the failing kidneys, Cody was born without a rectal.
Cody\'s parents said that in the first two years of his life, they fed him through a gastric canal.
Cody\'s diet has a lot of restrictions-no milk, no chocolate, no tomatoes, no salt-so he chose the dried fruit circle when he went --to meal.
He took a few bites from a piece of butter for dessert.
Cody needs dialysis three times a week for 4 hours each time.
His mother did not work much considering his son\'s needs.
His father told every employer in advance that his children were first.
\"If it weren\'t for the hospital, he would have been on dialysis for half of his life,\" Richard said . \".
\"I have been through a lot of work.
His parents said that when Cody was about 9 years old, he had a kidney transplant, which changed him.
This freed him from the constant dialysis.
He learned to swim and had more time to go to school.
Richard said: \"I won\'t say he\'s normal, but at least we don\'t have to be tied too much.
\"The new kidney lasted a little over five years and when it failed, Cody was taken to hospital by helicopter for a month --
His parents said they stayed for a long time.
Dialysis starts again
At the age of 14, Cody won a children\'s art competition.
The American Kidney Foundation sent him to Washington, D. C. C.
In a competition questionnaire, he listed his favorite things, including physical education, coloring and cycling.
His favorite actor is Scooby.
His role model: his father and his mother.
Cody wrote that when he grew up, he wanted to work with his father.
Cody left school in Grade 11.
His parents said he was studying. grade level.
He works on the farm as much as he can with his dad and they sell firewood in winter.
He chews Skoal tobacco and plays billiards at a local club.
He does not drink alcohol to protect his kidneys and heart.
But he doesn\'t always follow the doctor\'s advice.
He can have six.
His parents said there was a pack of Mello Yello soda in a day.
Cody became sad and lonely in the last few years.
His parents noticed that his friends on Facebook also noticed.
His parents said he was tired of pills, dialysis, hospitals and constant reminders of what he could and could not do.
\"I don\'t think it\'s just that his body is tired and his whole idea is done,\" his father said . \".
\"He\'s not afraid,\" his mother said . \"“He was ready.
Cody\'s heart stopped beating on her birthday on August 2, 2016.
Soon after, he recovered.
On August 29, 2016, Reuters reporter Brian growth sent an inquiry by email about the road to life.
At the time, news agencies knew nothing about Cody Sanders.
The reporter contacted Byrd with his real name and Thomson Reuters\'s email account.
\"We are looking for prices, including shipping costs, in order to cover non-
\"Transplant organization . \"The term “non-
Transplant Tissue \"refers to body parts such as the head and spine that cannot be transplanted to living humans.
The reporter\'s request provided a delivery address at Minni apores, a few miles from the University of Minnesota anatomy laboratory.
The result of the survey is, \"We look forward to hearing from you.
An hour later, Bird responded.
\"Thank you for your email and I\'m sure we haven\'t worked with you in the past.
How did you hear about our organization?
\"Your company was recommended to us by industry contacts,\" Grow replied . \".
Bird asked Grow if he wanted a full cervical spine-cervical and cervical tissue, right under the skull.
When told yes, Bird replied that the price was $300 plus the shipping cost of $150. He attached X-
Described as belonging to 24-year-old male.
Three days later, Grow accepted the offer.
Byrd replied, \"Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to work with you and your organization.
He added three questions.
One involves bills and one requires confirmation that the spine should be frozen instead of thawed.
Bird\'s third question is whether specimens are used for \"medical research or medical education \".
\"In addition to determining how easy it is to purchase body parts, Reuters has also tried to assess the quality of specimens and accompanying documents.
When the reporter simply answered \"it was used for medical research\", Bird closed the deal.
\"Thank you again (sic)
\"There is an opportunity to work with you and your organization,\" he wrote . \".
MacArthur said the Reuters purchase was legal and ethical.
There is no law to ban such sales, she said, and news agencies are conducting legal research.
She added that Byrd did not violate any laws by selling body parts.
Nevertheless, she said, the three questions he raised in his email indicate that the broker is focused on completing the sale, rather than seeking more details about the buyer\'s intentions.
This process may include a request from the seller for details on how the buyer intends to use the body parts for research or education.
MacArthur said brokers like bird who accept donations are morally responsible-though not legally-to ensure that body parts are used for appropriate purposes in a medical setting.
Reuters handed the body to MacArthur for analysis and storage.
But another buyer could have done anything to the spine and head of the human body, she said.
On September 27, 2016, a FedEx driver sent a brown carton to Minni aporius, who rented the mailing address by Reuters.
There, Grow received the package and handed it over to a courier dedicated to the delivery of the remains.
The courier drove the car directly to MacArthur of the medical school.
MacArthur immediately discovered the problem.
She said it was strange that she found no habitual warning of human remains inside the box.
MacArthur found a pair-
The page document in the box.
One of them, containing the results of a serum test by a reputable company, proved that the donor had no infectious disease.
Another page provides a handwritten summary of the donor\'s medical history in a popular language.
\"In my experience, I would have liked to see a more powerful form,\" MacArthur said . \" Most brokers provide accurate and detailed medical history, he explained.
\"This is very superficial.
She noted that there was neither a letterhead nor a contact number for the medical summary.
McArthur also cites cases where the sample identification numbers listed at the top and bottom of one of the pages are inconsistent.
She noticed a small difference between the identification number listed on the paperwork and the label attached to the plastic bag covering the spine.
Brandi Schmitt, director of anatomy services at the University of California, said accurate, clear medical history and consistent donor identification systems are key information for correct medical research.
Medical history helps researchers explain variables such as disease or trauma.
Clear paperwork and accurate labeling allow researchers to track samples in a scientific way, she said.
To prevent accidents that may cause loss of body parts or misidentification, most hospitals and medical schools use modern tracking techniques, including computers, Schmidt said
A metal plate or bar code label generated.
Some kind of label should be attached directly to the spine, not just to the packaging, she said.
\"Error Recognition is definitely a real problem,\" Schmitt said . \" He coordinated the body donation for the University of California\'s statewide medical school.
\"I don\'t think handwritten documents are your most professional approach.
It causes human error.
\"A week after the spine arrived, Bird responded to the following
Email from Grow.
According to Bird, each person can get a head of $300.
He also offered discounts on knee and foot specimens to make \"some fridge space\" available \".
He wrote that his low price on the body parts reflected the company\'s \"non-profit public charity\" status and added: \"We want to pay our expenses.
Richard and Angie Sanders said they wanted to bury Cody with relatives at the nearby cemetery.
But hard-read Richard earns only $900 a month.
Angie, who has been suffering from anxiety for a long time, cannot work or drive.
The funeral was too expensive.
Friends expressed their willingness to pay for cremation, which is usually at least $695 in the area.
But Sanders says they are upset about accepting the charity of people they know.
So they donated Cody\'s body to restore life.
At the time, Richard said he thanked the company for its promised free cremation.
Martha Seyer, president of the mortuary science program at Colorado\'s Arapahoe Community College, said the difficulties faced by the family are not uncommon among donors.
Families who have lost their loved ones are \"vulnerable and they will choose this option when they don\'t have the money,\" Thayer said . \".
\"The only thing that is more sad than a person who can\'t live is a person who can\'t die.
In Cody\'s case, a relative read aloud a donor consent form before his parents signed it.
\"I authorize the United States to restore life and to obtain all necessary tissues and organs for research and educational purposes,\" said the paragraph.
As far as I know, this gift will be used for scientific research, teaching or other purposes that meet the requirements and for multiple research or educational sites that are profitable and/or non-profitable
The profit-making organization that restored US Life believes it is necessary to facilitate the gift.
Sanders said they believe that it means restoring life only needs to take small skin samples from Cody for medical research, cremate him and return his ashes.
Cody\'s consent for the restoration of life does not disclose that the donated body may be dismembered, as is the consent form of most other brokers.
A few weeks after the donation, a man from Restore Life sent a urn containing Cody\'s ashes.
Angie couldn\'t remember the name of the man, but said he was kind.
\"It\'s really good, it\'s understandable,\" she said . \".
Cody\'s death worried Richard about Angie.
No matter what she does, he doesn\'t eat a few bites and usually doesn\'t talk about their losses.
Richard said there was nothing wrong with Angie, but he noted that he had reduced smoking from 5 packs per day to about 3.
On the rusty redand-
Richard took a white pickup with his son and posted a big sticker on the back window: \"In honor of Cody Sanders.
\"He is my friend.
He is my best friend . \"
\"I have always told myself that I will overcome it. I will overcome it.
Angie Sanders keeps four pictures of Cody in her shoe box at her car House.
In each shot, he looked directly at the camera, with a shadow hanging on his cap.
She also put a silver urn with his ashes on the dashboard.
\"I didn\'t catch Cody when he came to the world, and I didn\'t catch him when he went out,\" she said . \".
\"But he came back to me, so he was with me.
On January, Restore Life shipped a second package to Reuters at the same Minneapolis address.
This has two heads: one is male and the other is female.
As details of the upcoming story, Reuters purchased these heads as part of a study of a case in Pennsylvania.
About three years ago, a human head was found in a woodland near Pittsburgh.
The expert Courier took the box to MacArthur\'s university lab again, where she put on protective gear and opened the box.
McArthur said that the foam plastic container inside the carton broke along two external edges, making it easy to leak, and had potential health for anyone who handled it, from shippers to researchers.
She also found that there was a problem with the paperwork on the male head.
\"Usually the areas that list the samples of the organization-usually the customer, the sample description, the sample ID, the type of save, and the date and time of the save-are blank,\" she said . \".
Similarly, the paperwork for the female head is not professionally prepared, she said.
MacArthur said the documents were difficult to read and she had difficulty understanding the critical information that any researcher needed, including the person\'s medical history.
After the parcel and documents were removed, MacArthur found that neither head identified the label.
Labels are considered key to tracking identity, especially when dealing with multiple body parts, McArthur said.
MacArthur said she was familiar with the story of the agent selling body parts at will, but the rush of the shipment surprised her.
\"I don\'t believe what I see here should be allowed or legal,\" MacArthur said . \".
\"I know that the way it is handled will not kill medical education and research.
We can do this in the right way.
As is customary in the body broker industry, the restoration of life does not include the name of the person who donated to the body part of the reporter\'s growth-just the age and date of death of each person.
Reuters was unable to determine the person whose head was transported.
But at the age of 24, Cody Sanders died so young that news agencies could recognize him after searching for obituary in Southern states.
With the permission and participation of parents, Reuters hired a forensic laboratory for DNA testing.
Confirmed that the cervical spine is Cody.
At the end of August, growth returned to Richard and Angie Sanders, telling them what Reuters learned: restoring life to dissect their son\'s body and selling part of his spine.
Cody\'s parents sat silent for a moment.
Angie stared at the distance.
Richard looked at the ground.
Then Angie spoke.
\"I thought they were just collecting skin samples,\" she said . \"
Richard tried to comfort her.
\"It\'s over, dear.
\"I don\'t want to have surgery anymore,\" she said . \".
\"At that time, we had no choice,\" Richard reminded her . \".
\"But you have to look at it like this: as you have always said, if it helps others . . . . . . \" \"I know, I know.
\"The couple didn\'t say anything for nearly half a minute.
Finally, Richard turned to Angie.
He told her that this part of their life was \"done and done \".
His parents said they would not donate his body if they knew Cody would be dissect.
They felt that Cody had gone through too many surgeries in his short life.
Richard said they did not want, nor did they want anyone to \"hurt him\" in death \".
However, he added, \"I can\'t do anything else, so I feel like it\'s our best choice.
Richard asked if other parts of Cody\'s body were used to restore life.
The reporter said he did not know.
This information is not usually disclosed by brokers.
Richard said he doubted whether he would look for an answer from restoring his life.
\"I don\'t blame them,\" he said . \"
But he was happy to know what happened to Cody\'s body.
\"Because we will never know,\" he said . \"Angie agreed.
\"We don\'t have any clues.
\"At the beginning of this month, Cody\'s spine was cremated in Minnesota to meet the wishes of his family, at the expense of the rerouter.
Grow sent the ashes to the Sanders family at his home in Tennessee.
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