The body of a man who died of COVID-19 was reportedly dissected in front of a paying audience at an event last month without his family’s knowledge.
According to a KING 5 News investigationDavid Saunders’s family expected the body to be used to conduct medical research. The corpse was first prepared by a funeral director and then passed to a private business. However, Saunders’ family recently learned that the body was dissected at a public, for-profit event in the conference room of the Portland Marriott hotel in Oregon on Oct. 17.
The so-called “Cadaver Class” was organized by a group called Death Science, which offers education about “scientific fields and topics that relate to the deceased.” Death Science, which has more than 1.1 million followers on TikTok, posts a range of quirky content about deaths, autopsies, crime scenes, fossils and more.
The “Cadaver Class” was part of the traveling Oddities and Curiosities Expo. According to the event page, attendees would observe a formal forensic autopsy followed by an anatomical dissection in order to “find new perspectives on how the human body can tell a story.”
“There will be several opportunities for attendees to get an up close and personal look at the cadaver,” the event description said. “Cadaver access before, after and during breaks.”
According to reports, organizers sold tickets up to $500
Saunders’ widow reportedly learned about how her late husband’s body was used via a KING 5 report last week questioning the ethics of the event. A photojournalist from the news outlet observed Saunders’ name on a medical bracelet.
The report prompted the cancellationA second Cadaver Class had been scheduled for Seattle’s Halloween celebration, after the Chief Death Investigator in Portland intervened.
Mike Clark, the funeral director in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who handled the preparation of Saunders’ body, told KING 5 he and his staff were horrified by what happened.
“Our whole staff was horrified that this is what had happened to a gentleman that he and his family thought that his body was going for the advancement of medical students,” Clark said.
Also, he noted that his funeral house would no longer be able to work with Med Ed Labs (the company which received the body).
Med Ed Labs bills itself asAn organization that promotes medical and surgical education stated on their website that the whole-body donation program allows donors for medical research and education.
“We have an inherent respect for both individuals both living and deceased and commit ourselves to compassionate care with the highest ethical standards,” it said.
KING 5 heard from a Med Ed Labs administrator, that Jeremy Ciliberto was dishonest about his business dealings with Med Ed Labs. He claimed the body would go to a medical class. According to reports, the administrator couldn’t explain how a COVID-19 victims body was given to an event in which people could get closer to it.
Ciliberto said the donor’s family did give consent, that Med Ed was aware of his plans for the cadavers he purchased and that the event was entirely professional.
“I can guarantee that that man knew his body would be used for medical research,” Ciliberto told KING 5.
Kimberly DiLeo is the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s chief medical death investigator. She said that a Med Ed supervisor told her they didn’t know the body would be used this way.