Thursday, January 31, 2008

Grave Robbers: Stolen Body Parts Ringleaders Confessing

In the 1800's, grave robbing was an often-used, although illegal and scorned, method used to get corpses for medical students. In those cases, as disgusting as they were, the bodies were used for teaching.

In the 2lst century high-tech world, your dead uncle's HIV-ridden corpse might be seen as only the parts junkyard for later resale of organs and body parts. As ringleader Michael Mastromarino and nurse Lee Cruceta confess, stories are emerging about PVC pipes substituted for bones in plundered bodies.

The included funeral home directors. After charging families to care for their loved ones, they then resold corpses for $1,000.

The ring's actions have tainted several companies that purchases from Mastromarino's Biomedical Tissues Services. Among the companies in the pipeline: Regeneration Technologies Inc., LifeCell Corp. and Tutogen Medical Inc., nonprofits Lost Mountain Tissue Bank and the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas, and health giant Medtronic Inc. of Minneapolis.

The lawsuits are stacking up. The greater cost: the doubts left for patients who received transplants in operations including disk replacements, knee operations, and dental implants .

The most famous victim to date: "Masterpiece Theater" host Alistair Cooke, whose body was literally hacked to pieces for medical piracy.

Dr. Frankenstein, welcome to a new century.

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