Body of Louisiana veteran returns home after public dissection
BATON ROUGE - The body of 98-year-old World War II veteran David Saunders returned home Saturday, nearly a month after it was publicly dissected during a ticketed event in Portland.
Harold Adkins, Saunders’s nephew, told WBRZ the return provided his family "some closure."
Adkins and East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore identified the body Monday.
"It was pretty horrific what they did," Adkins said.
At Saunders's request, his family moved to donate his body to science following his death in August. According to The Advocate, LSU declined the donation when learning Saunders died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Instead of being used for medical research, Saunders's body ended up being dissected in front of a live, ticketed audience as part of a cadaver lab class put on by Death Science, who got the body from Med Ed.
"It's infuriating," Kim Dileo, Chief Medicolegal Death Investigator for Multnomah County in Oregon, said. "For those of us who are in this profession, we advocate strongly for the deceased and their families. To see that take place is a huge violation of what everything that we stand for."
Dileo first heard about the cadaver lab class from a colleague. Aiming to have the event shut down, she reached out to the first hotel slated to host the class.
"I reached out to the Marriott on Oak Street and spoke with their director of sales," Dileo said. "She advised they were canceling the event once they learned of the nature of the event."
Dileo did not have as much luck persuading a second hotel to cancel after the event was rescheduled.
"I was very clear with the nature of the event, the concerns surrounding the event," Dileo said. "It was pretty frustrating that it wasn't canceled."
Dileo, who has spoken to Saunders's widow Elsie, says she has not seen or heard of any case like this in her two decades of experience in death investigations.
"When people donate their bodies to science, it is with trust that they will be treated respectfully and that their donation will go towards the advancement of medical science and technology," Dileo said. "That certainly wasn't the case here."
Adkins says plans for a memorial service have not yet been finalized.