NEW ORLEANS (AP) – An organization that bought a human body and organized its public dissection says it had a contract saying it could be used for education, and its “Cadaver Lab Class” was appropriately educational, despite criticism from the man’s widow.
Death Science said it does not have any information about the man whose body was dissected Oct. 17 in Portland, Oregon, with tickets sold through a separate “Oddities and Curiosities Expo.” Seattle station KING-TV identified the man from a typed ID bracelet as David Saunders, 98, of Baker, Louisiana, a Baton Rouge suburb.
Such use of the World War II and Korean War veteran’s body was horrible and unethical, his wife, Elsie Saunders, told The Advocate of Baton Rouge: “I have all this paperwork that says his body would be used for science — nothing about this commercialization of his death.”
Death Science responded Friday with a statement saying its contract with Med Ed Labs of Las Vegas certified that “the provided cadaver was donated for research, medical and educational purposes.”
“My goal was to create an educational experience for individuals who have an interest in learning more about human anatomy. We understand that this event has caused undue stress for the family and we apologize for that,” wrote Jeremy Ciliberto, who described himself as “communications consultant” for the group. KING-TV described him as a founder of Death Science.
Ciliberto told the station that Death Science paid more than $10,000 for the cadaver. About 70 people paid $100 to $500 to attend its dissection, depending on whether they were doing so virtually or in person, the seat location and whether they were watching for a whole or half day, the prepared statement said.
Death Science did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday from The Associated Press, including a question about whether it had held similar classes in the past.
“Med Ed Labs provided the cadaver, supplied the anatomist (the individual who instructed/conducted the class), tools and equipment for the procedure, a completed serology report, booked the venue for the course, and was responsible for the handling of the cadaver before, during and after the event,” the Death Science statement said.
Med Ed manager Obteen Nassiri told the newspaper that he did not know people would be buying tickets. Death Science had promised everything would be professional, he said.
Death Science said it had been in touch with Nassiri for months, “including, but not limited to, the fact that the attendees are not exclusively medical students and ticket sales.”
Both said it was Death Science’s first contract with Med Ed, and would be the last. The company had been slated to provide a cadaver for a Halloween class in Seattle, which was canceled after KING-TV’s reports.
“Death Science and Med Ed Labs dissolved their working relationship and the event was canceled,” Death Science’s statement said.
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