In Legal Gray Zone, Europeans Harvest Body Parts for US

Ukrainian company accused of gutting bodies illegally
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2009 6:09 PM CDT
Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart is on exhibit at the Buffalo Museum of Science in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, July 8, 2009.   (AP Photo/David Duprey)
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(Newser) – A billion-dollar business of shipping body parts from Germany to the US is booming and may be illegal, Der Spiegel reports. The body harvesting is done in the Ukraine, where authorities are investigating allegations that a company has used coercion and fraud to obtain family permission to harvest bodies. The parts are then sent to a German company, Tutogen, which ships them off to Florida.

German critics concede that the practice may be legal, if parts are processed before going to America. But it is immoral, they say, because doctors often don't want the parts, preferring to use a patient's own tissue. And they say there's something wrong with gutting a person for $250,000 in skin, tendons, and bones. "Those people are truly guilty," says one woman persuaded to give up her father's body parts, "and I am outraged that these terrible things are still taking place."