American body parts and capitalism: a match made in heaven

It's good to be number one.

According to a report from Reuters journalists John Shiffman and Reade Levinson, The United States could well be the biggest exporter of severed heads, arms, legs, and torsos in the world.

The report states that the lion's share of these exports can be traced to a Portland-based company called MedCure Inc. In a recent shipment, the company sent roughly six thousand pounds of human remains to overseas buyers, at a value of $67,204. MedCure came by the body parts by dissecting the remains of individuals who left their bodies to medical science:

Among the parts: a pelvis and legs to a university in Malaysia; feet to medical device companies in Brazil and Turkey; and heads to hospitals in Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates.

Demand for body parts from America — torsos, knees and heads — is high in countries where religious traditions or laws prohibit the dissection of the dead. Unlike many developed nations, the United States largely does not regulate the sale of donated body parts, allowing entrepreneurs such as MedCure to expand exports rapidly during the last decade.

No other nation has an industry that can provide as convenient and reliable a supply of body parts.

It's worth noting that in many cases, the forms signed by those donating their bodies to medical science state that their bits and pieces may be cut up and shipped to other locales. What makes this gross, however, is that money is being made off of the practice, often to the surprise of the deceased's relatives – afterall, the body was given freely, in the hopes that it could advance the betterment of humankind.

I suppose that if what MedCure's doing is all above board, they shouldn't be the subject of a federal investigation. But guess what? They totally are. The FBI's so far up MediCure's ass right now that they can see their teeth. Reuters explains that while "...the search warrant remains sealed, people familiar with the matter say it relates in part to overseas shipping."


By P.J.L Laurens - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,