MYSTERY WIRE — When their grandfather’s body was donated to science, a family had no idea that meant dissection in front of a paying audience in a hotel ballroom in Portland, Oregon.
David Saunders, a 98-year-old WWII veteran, died of COVID-19 in August in suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. What happened after that has emerged as a nightmarish story of chain-of-custody gone wrong.
After Saunders’ wife, Elsie, donated her husband’s body for medical research, it was passed around by a funeral director and a company that staged the dissection.
About 70 people paid from $100 to $500 to watch in October, according to a report from ABC News.
“My impression, it was strictly for medical science, not that his body would be put on display,” Elsie Saunders told the New York Times in an article published on Nov. 5.
A company called Med Ed Labs was involved. That company has offices all over the country, including a location in downtown Las Vegas. The company’s website lists its services, which include, “Ordering, procuring, handling, positioning, and disposal of all types of cadaver specimens.”
So how did Saunders end up nearly 2,500 miles away? And was the event really educational, or just a lurid performance?
A company called Death Science told The Associated Press that its “Cadaver Lab Class” was indeed educational.
Never mind that tickets to the event were sold through a separate “Oddities and Curiosities Expo.”
Death Science contracted with the Las Vegas Med Ed Labs office to provide the body.
A representative of Death Science told a Seattle television station that the company paid $10,000 for the cadaver.
And Vice.com adds to the story, noting that body donation is an unregulated industry.
Donations to universities are most likely to be used for teaching and research, and donors are much-needed to develop new medicine and tools that help the living, but private, for-profit companies that buy and sell cadavers have been caught using them to test explosives or leaving them to thaw in the sun.