Corpse Trafficking: Repurposed body parts?

SC Personal Injury Lawyer

Are human tissues and bones being trafficked internationally? That is what one newspaper is saying.

The Australian newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, alleges that tissue and bone from corpses is liberally traded among countries. The paper claims the materials are used with little oversight while creating large profits for companies. One disease-free human body can bring in anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000 in cash flow for various non-profit and for-profit companies involved in the tissue trafficking.

One of the primary players in the tissue trade, RTI Biologic is based in Florida. RTI Biologic has managed to turn human remains into large profits, even though the law states money cannot be given in exchange for human body parts. RTI skirts the law this way: it is legal to pay service fees that cover the costs of finding, storing and processing the human tissues.

Who oversees tissue trafficking?

Corpse Trafficking, Repurposed Body PartsInternationally, the nature of the trade leads to little oversight between countries. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration regulates the trade. The FDA relies heavily on the American Association of Tissue Banks. The American Tissue Bank oversees all tissue donations worldwide and gives accreditation to local tissue banks.

Upon further examination of AATB and FDA registration data only about one third of tissue banks receive accreditation by the AATB. This makes it hard to keep track of the donation of bone and skin tissues. This leads to questions as to the safety and sterility of those tissues that are donated. AATB claims the chance of contamination is low and that most products undergo radiation and sterilization. Adding to the uncertainty, FDA officials state they are only obligated to report the most serious adverse effects from the tissue donation.  Since 2002, the FDA has documented at least 1352 infections in the US following human tissue transplants. Forty deaths are currently linked to the infections resulting from transplants.

What must be done to make tissue trafficking safer?

Many of the tissues originate in one country, undergo manufacturing in another country, and then are distributed to yet another.  This makes it hard to trace the origins of some tissue. Many around the globe are now pushing for more regulation in the industry. They would like to see the industry regulated like modern blood and organ collection industries. Blood and organ collections are bar-coded and scanned from place to place.

Many are also calling for the FDA to step up its enforcement.  Currently all a tissue or bone donation company has to do to register with the FDA is fill out and a form and wait for an inspection. It usually takes the FDA around two years to inspect a company; therefore, the company operates freely during this time.

As for now, the practice will continue with little oversight.

SC Personal Injury Lawyer

Diseases like HIV and hepatitis, among others may be contracted from tissue or bone transplants. These illnesses can be debilitating and even deadly. If you or someone you loved has received donated tissue or bones and has become seriously ill or died as a result, contact the SC Personal Injury Lawyer at the Strom Law Firm today. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.

About Pete Strom

Defending criminal charges including drug crimes, DUI, CDV, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer crimes, money laundering, and juvenile crimes, Pete also handles Federal and State investigations. Representing individuals in Civil Matters including Class Actions, Personal Injury, Qui Tam Actions, Defective Products, Nursing Home Neglect, and Professional Licensing Defense cases. Joseph Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr., the managing partner at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C., has been fighting for justice since 1984.

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