When a man agreed to donate his body after death to medical research, it's unlikely he imagined that "research" to include a dissection in front of a paying audience at a traveling "Oddities and Curiosities Expo" event. But that's where the body of 98-year-old David Saunders ended up, to his family's dismay.
Saunders, who died of Covid-19, had his funeral in Louisiana. But his body ended up at the Marriott hotel in Portland as the subject of a "Cadaver Lab Class," where people paid $500 per ticket to watch an "autopsy."
As King5 News, who broke the story, described it:
Paying customers filed into a lower floor ballroom at the Marriott Downtown Waterfront hotel. On a table in the center of the ballroom, a figure lay draped in a white sheet. The VIP customers, who paid the $500 ticket price, sat in the front row inches from the table.
Dr. Colin Henderson, a retired professor of anatomy from the University of Montana in Missoula, removed the covering and exposed the body of an 86-year-old [changed to 98-year-old in later articles] dead man that Henderson said "…had donated his body to science."
The so-called Cadaver Class was organized by a group called Death Science, which offers education about "scientific fields and topics that relate to the deceased." Death Science, which has more than 1.1 million followers on TikTok, posts a range of quirky content about deaths, autopsies, crime scenes, fossils and more. …
Saunders' widow reportedly learned about how her late husband's body was used via a KING 5 report last week questioning the ethics of the event. A photojournalist from the news outlet observed Saunders' name on a medical bracelet. …
Mike Clark, the funeral director in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who handled the preparation of Saunders' body, told KING 5 he and his staff were horrified by what happened.
"Our whole staff was horrified that this is what had happened to a gentleman that he and his family thought that his body was going for the advancement of medical students," Clark said.
He also noted that his funeral home would no longer work with Med Ed Labs, the company that received the body.
The traveling show had a second Cadaver Lab Class (with a second cadaver, of course) lined up in Seattle for a special Halloween performance, but it was canceled.