GOP Senate hopeful got rich diverting corpsemeat from burn victims to enlarge penises

Republican former South Dakota lieutenant governor and potential Senate candidate Steve Kirby made his fortune running a scandal-wracked business that harvested collagen from corpses donated for medical research and using it for cosmetic products and penis-enlargements:
Collagenesis specialized in processing donated skin off cadavers into cosmetic surgery products, and was subject to a blistering five-part investigative series by the Orange County Register beginning on April 17, 2000. “Burn victims lie waiting in hospitals as nurses scour the country for skin to cover their wounds, even though skin is in plentiful supply for plastic surgeons,” read the lede of the Register report. “The skin they need to save their lives is being used instead for procedures that could wait: supporting bladders, erasing laugh lines and enlarging penises.”..

Kirby’s niche industry had proven financially lucrative. Collagenesis could take the skin off one cadaver and convert it into $36,000 of a gel injected to smooth wrinkles and inflate lips. Its lone competitor, a firm called LifeCell, estimated its potential revenues from such skin at $200 million a year – 10 times what it would earn if it focused on life-saving burn applications instead of cosmetic surgery.

Link (via Making Light)


  1. Heya, Tom’ it’s Bob from the office down the hall
    Good to see you, buddy; how’ve you been?
    Thing have been OK for me except that I’m a zombie now
    I really wish you’d let us in
    I think I speak for all of us when I say I understand
    Why you folks might hesitate to submit to our demand
    But here’s an FYI: you’re all gonna die screaming

    All we want to do is eat your brains
    We’re not unreasonable; I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes
    All we want to do is eat your brains
    We’re at an impasse here; maybe we should compromise:
    If you open up the doors
    We’ll all come inside and eat your brains

    I don’t want to nitpick, Tom, but is this really your plan?
    To spend your whole life locked inside a mall?
    Maybe that’s OK for now but someday you’ll be out of food and guns
    And then you’ll have to make the call
    I’m not surprised to see you haven’t thought it through enough
    You never had the head for all that bigger picture stuff
    But, Tom, that’s what I do, and I plan on eating you slowly

    All we want to do is eat your brains
    We’re not unreasonable; I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes
    All we want to do is eat your brains
    We’re at an impasse here; maybe we should compromise:
    If you open up the doors
    We’ll all come inside and eat your brains

    I’d like to help you, Tom, in any way I can
    I sure appreciate the way you’re working with me
    I’m not a monster, Tom…well, technically, I am
    I guess I am

    I’ve got another meeting, Tom; maybe we could wrap it up
    I know we’ll get to common ground somehow
    Meanwhile I’ll report back to my colleagues who were chewing on the doors
    I guess we’ll table this for now
    I’m glad to see you take constructive criticism well
    Thank you for your time; I know we’re all busy as hell
    And we’ll put this thing to bed
    When I bash your head open

    All we want to do is eat your brains
    We’re not unreasonable; I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes
    All we want to do is eat your brains
    We’re at an impasse here; maybe we should compromise:
    If you open up the doors
    We’ll all come inside and eat your brains

  2. make it profitable enough and they’ll overlook the hepatitis, HIV and all the other normal disqualifiers. Make it REALLY profitable and they’ll make the corpses.

  3. @#3: I second that opinion.

    And this is a perfect example of how overconsumption is THEFT of limited resources from those who need them, and capitalism is NOT all that and a bag of chips.

  4. and you just know that if they thought for one second that they could get away with it that most of the uber capitalists would be making child pornography.

    Think about it, the “staff” would work for gummy bears and the profits would be astronomical.

    Ah to live in so free a market, and be so free of CONSCIENCE.

  5. I’d like to begin raising my own corpsemeat. How can I get started? I’ve already done quite well in the alpaca business…

  6. Using these skin resources for penis enlargements over treating burn victims just so Steve Kirby can accumulate a bigger mountain of money? Bastard.

    I bet Steve Kirby is not only the business owner…but he’s also a client, if ya know what I mean.

  7. Deplorable, yes, but also understandable from a business perspective.

    Collagenesis has corpsemeat, and they want to profit from it. They could sell it to hospitals and make some money, or they could sell it to plastic surgeons and make much, much more money. It’s not important for the business to care what their product is used for, but rather to maximize profit.

    In that respect, they’re really no worse than any other business that could be selling it’s product for less money to a more noble cause. Couldn’t most food producers sell their products to soup kitchens for very meager profit, instead of selling to the highest-paying supermarket chain? Seriously, ask yourself, how much profit did Organic Food Company A make selling their carrots to Whole Foods, and why didn’t they sell them at just above cost to a soup kitchen instead?

    Just about every business is guilty of this same thing. It absolutely sounds more outrageous and deplorable when we’re talking about a business that makes money at the expense of burn victims… but really, who draws the line when it comes to what a business can capitalize on? If Collagenesis can’t make money at the expense of burn victims, why can funeral homes and casket makers make money at the expense of grieving families?

  8. I am hoping that instead of a tax rebate check from congress, I will get a gift certificate redeemable for 1 free penis enlargement surgery.

  9. Didymos- in my opinion, the difference between this scandal and your supermarket analogy is a matter of scale. People have to eat, this is a given. In the US, the availability of food is pretty damn good, so by and large people don’t die of starvation. Thus, the choice of Whole Foods versus the local soup kitchen is a matter of a few dollars of luxury that you may or may not have.

    In the case of burn victims versus cosmetic surgery, the difference is much, much bigger. While a lot of cosmetic surgery is reconstructive, penis enlargements and laugh line erasure don’t tend to fit into that. Rather, we’re looking at the gap between vanity and burn victims- people who live in terrible pain and are at risk for disfigurement, infection and death.

    So you’re right- in a market economy sense, what’s happening here is no different than selling your carrots to Whole Foods. But on a humane level, I think you have to admit that getting inferior carrots is not as big a deal as lying on an air cushion bed, doped out of your mind on morphine so you can stop screaming, hoping that you’ll be able to go out into public again some day.

  10. I’ll willing to bet that organ donors, if presented with a choice, would pick burn victims over boners.

  11. Maybe he wanted to make his own penis so big he could fuck-over all of his constituents, and eventually create a penis so big he could fuck the entire world.

    Damn, that sound like a possible screenplay. . . time to get to work.

  12. Sounds like whining from burn victims. It says right there that they can have new skin for the low low price of $36k. Do you wanna be covered or not, ’cause this is the fair market price of a complete body’s worth of corpsemeat.

  13. Given the contamination problems we’ve been seeing with grafts, maybe the “elective surgery” patients will be the ones who end up getting… well, you know.

  14. ah ha… Cory’s onto something; organ donor control.

    I’ll leave my guts to help others so long as they are_____________________ and not _________________.

    I wonder if it would increase the donation rate?

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