Thursday, August 14, 2008

More "Bodies Revealed" Revelations

This is a picture of the footstep fireworks which isn't actually from the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony:

This is a picture of the girl who didn't actually sing at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony (The actual singer who wasn't cute enough for TV is in the inset):

This is a anatomical gift form provided by Union Station that none of the cured and sliced Chinese on display at Bodies Revealed actually signed in their lifetime.
donation form
The form above was provided to The Catholic Key by Union Station months ago with the representation that it is a translation from Chinese and that all the bodies on exhibit at Union Station had signed it.

In fact, the form belongs to a legitimate medical donation non-profit called Anatomy Gifts Registry. Their name has been excised from the form provided by Union Station. The Key spoke with an official at AGR who wrote the form in English well after the bodies on exhibit at Union Station were deceased and diced. AGR is not affiliated with Bodies Revealed producer Premier Exhibitions and did not provide the form to them.

Brian Wainger, General Counsel for Premier, told The Catholic Key the he specifically explained to Union Station that Premier was not in possession of consent forms for bodies in the Bodies Revealed show. How then did Union Station President Andi Udris get hold of this form and tell the Kansas City Star that it was used for the bodies at Union Station? Here's what the Star reported February 16 (and has not retracted):

"I have no reason to believe these people (in "Bodies Revealed") didn't willingly donate their bodies," Udris said. "It happens every day."

But anticipating a meeting with local Catholic officials -- and before the ABC report -- Udris already had decided he wanted a greater comfort level.

"I went back to my people and said, 'OK, what we need here is some additional evidence,' " Udris said. "And what they have provided us is the donation form, in English, explaining this is what these people supposedly signed off on. What they have not revealed to us is the actual copy signed by the person."

Udris isn't sure Union Station can demand that information.

Roy Glover, chief medical adviser for Premier, has previously told The Star that privacy considerations prevent the company from identifying the donors.

Wainger told the Key that he never represented to Union Station that a consent form was used. Rather, an employee of Premier, perhaps Dr. Roy Glover according to Wainger, had shown the form to an employee of Union Station as an example of a form that can be used for body donations. Glover himself has signed such a form, Wainger said.

Somehow that message got garbled in translation by the time it hit the Star.

What Premier does have, Wainger said, is an affidavit from their supplier of the bodies, Taiwan-based Genlife Biomedical, stating that the bodies are of willing donors.

But Genlife neither acquired the original corpses nor plastinated them. They acquired the already plastinated bodies from Nanjing Suyi Plastination Laboratories in Nanjing, China. So it is difficult to see how an affidavit from Genlife has any probative value.

Other material provided to the press by Union Station claims that the bodies received from Nanjing Suyi Plastination Laboratories came from "accredited medical universities in the People's Republic of China."

However, in response to an inquiry from the Key, Dr. Jiong Ding, Chair of the Department of Anatomy at Nanjing Medical University, wrote:

I declare seriously, the bodies of volunteer donors we received are only used for anatomy teaching in our Nanjing Medical University. We have never provided any body to any companies for making plastinated bodies or for any commercial behavior. The plastinated bodies showing in the United States from Nanjing has no relation with our university.

In fact, Dr. Jiong Ding recently wrote an article in a peer-reviewed anatomy journal lamenting the shortage of bodies available for the teaching of anatomy at all Chinese medical universities.

There is plenty here to be investigated and body shows are being investigated by the press, law enforcement and legislatures in other states. Following an investigation of another Premier Exhibitions show in New York, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo concluded:

The grim reality is that Premier Exhibitions has profited from displaying the remains of individuals who may have been tortured and executed in China. Despite repeated denials, we now know that Premier itself cannot demonstrate the circumstances that led to the death of the individuals. Nor is Premier able to establish that these people consented to their remains being used in this manner.

Despite repeated representations in the pages of Bodies Revealed co-sponsor, The Kansas City Star, the level of proof available as to the origin of bodies in the Kansas City show is no better that the New York show.

Bodies . . . The Exhibition in New York must now offer refunds to patrons who were misled to believe there was consent for the bodies they paid to view. Premier also must provide this disclaimer for the show:

-This exhibit displays human remains of Chinese citizens or residents which were originally received by the Chinese Bureau of Police. The Chinese Bureau of Police may receive bodies from Chinese prisons. Premier cannot independently verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons.

-This exhibit displays full body cadavers as well as human body parts, organs, fetuses and embryos that come from cadavers of Chinese citizens or residents. With respect to the human parts, organs, fetuses and embryos you are viewing, Premier relies solely on the representations of its Chinese partners and cannot independently verify that they do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons.

If Kansas City had an independent secular media that was in the business of investigation instead of sponsorship, you might be reading about this there, instead of a last minute push to boost ticket sales.

UPDATE: For readers visiting from outside the KC Metro Area, the original context of this article is available here.

NEW UPDATE - If you came to this post directly, please visit a newly updated post on this story. The Key will be posting additional updates throughout the week.