HILLSBORO, Oregon – If you’ve ever considered donating a deceased loved one’s body to science, this might make you think twice.
Angelina Merrill is one of many people suing a former human cadaver donation company after donating her mother’s body to science.
Merrill says before her mother passed away from lung and breast cancer in Oregon, the two agreed to give her body for cancer research to Biological Resource Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Merrill says she was promised that the company would take a small piece of tissue and send it off to a lab.
A few weeks later, Merrill says she was mailed what she thought were her mother’s ashes, however, in January of 2014, the FBI raided the facility and found her mother’s severed remains inside.
“Her entire body was in separated pieces,” Merill told KGW. “I didn’t know what I had. Was my mother in the box they sent me? Was it even her? What did they send me?”
Merill is now one of many suing the company in a civil lawsuit, claiming it sold body parts for profit and tried to cover it up.
Though it has not been disclosed to whom the victims’ body parts were sold and for what purpose, Brian Kabateck is the attorney representing the families and says, in general, body parts can be used for anything from medical research, to military explosive testing, to canine training.
“Let’s be honest, how many families would actually donate their loved one’s body if they knew it was going to be used for canine training,” Kabateck said.
“It’s been incredibly painful for the entire family,” Merrill said.
KGW was not able to reach the former owner of the company, Stephen Gore, for comment, but reports Gore admitted to selling human body parts to vendors, which the families knew nothing about.
Gore agreed to a plea deal in 2015 and Biological Resource Center has since closed, but it is not the only human cadaver donation company to be investigated by the FBI.
MedCure in Portland was just raided by the FBI last week.
Though agents confiscated records, they did not remove any body parts from the scene, and no charges were filed.