Body of Louisiana WWII veteran dissected at macabre expo for profit
A grieving widow is horrified after learning her late husband's body, which she donated to science, was dissected in front of a paying audience in a hotel ballroom in Oregon.
Elsie Saunders' husband, decorated World War II veteran David Saunders and Baker native, died of COVID-19 at the age of 98 in a Zachary hospital. Elsie said her husband's wish was for his body to be used to advance medical science.
An attorney for Saunder's family tried to donate it to LSU, but the university refused because of the dangers of performing an autopsy on a body contaminated with the coronavirus. Elsie got in contact with Med Ed Labs, a private company based in Las Vegas, and was under the impression their goal was to educate students.
She didn't learn David's body had been dissected in front of a live audience until Tuesday when she was contacted by a reporter in Washington state for a comment on the event.
A touring group called the "Oddities and Curiosities Expo" cut apart the cadaver in the ballroom of a Marriott hotel in Portland. Tickets cost up to $500 a person, and the spectacle lasted seven hours with a lunch break in the middle.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's horrible, unethical, and I just don't have the words to describe it," Elsie Saunders told a reporter for The Advocate. "I have all this paperwork that says his body would be used for science - nothing about the commercialization of his death."
Med Ed sold David Saunders' body to a company called Death Science who then supplied it to the Oddities and Curiosities Expo. When questioned, a spokesperson for Death Science said Med Ed was fully aware the body would be used for a spectator event of "not exclusively medical students." However, they did place blame on Med Ed for not making it known the body was COVID positive.
According to the CDC, the chances of getting the virus from a dead body is very low, and the company said the cadaver tested negative for coronavirus before being sold. Therefore, they believed there was no risk to anyone performing the dissection or observing.
Med Ed manager, Obteen Nassiri, said he spoke with Elsie on Wednesday and apologized for what happened to her husband's body. Nassiri claims he had no idea it would be used for a spectator event.
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