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Body Donated to Science Dissected for Paying Audience in OR

The body of an elderly man was dissected before a paying audience at a downtown Portland, Oregon, hotel last month.

It happened after his wife believed she donated his body to science, OregonLive.com reported Thursday.

“Seventy people gathered inside a meeting room at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront — some paying up to $500 a ticket — to watch the autopsy of David Saunders, who lived in Louisiana with his 92-year-old wife until he died from the coronavirus,” the outlet said.

King 5 shared video footage of the event:

Kimberly DiLeo, who is Multnomah County’s chief medicolegal death investigator, said she called the Portland Police Bureau and Oregon Medical Board prior to the October 17 event to alert them regarding the potentially illegal autopsy.

A few weeks later, officials are looking at laws to determine if any were broken.

According to DiLeo, the way Saunders’ body was handled may be considered abuse of a body, which is a Class B felony in the state of Oregon, the outlet continued:

But Lt. Nathan Sheppard, a Portland police spokesperson, said detectives consulted with the Oregon Department of Justice, Oregon State Police and Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and determined no crimes were committed during the autopsy. He said civil laws may have been violated, including those that forbid certain postmortem examinations of bodies and place restrictions on the disposition of unclaimed bodies.

“When Saunders’ wife donated her husband’s body to Med Ed Labs, she recalls she was told the Las Vegas-based company would use his body for research and return his cremated remains in an urn,” the report said.

She did not know his body would be dissected at a hotel for an audience, DiLeo explained.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s horrible, unethical, and I just don’t have the words to describe it,” Elsie Saunders, the wife of David Saunders, said. “I have all this paperwork that says his body would be used for science — nothing about this commercialization of his death.”

However, media company Death Science bought the body from Med Ed Labs to use during a “Cadaver Lab Class” held for the Oddities and Curiosities Expo, which is a traveling event geared toward “lovers of the strange, unusual and bizarre,” the OregonLive.com report said.

Another Cadaver Lab Class that was set to take place on Halloween in Seattle was reportedly canceled prior to the event.

DiLeo said the event was hurtful to the scientific community and Saunders’ wife, who requested that Med Ed Labs return her husband’s body to Louisiana instead of performing cremation because she did not trust them to send the correct remains.

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