American body parts and capitalism: a match made in heaven


Originally published at:


I have a very slightly used human, bout how much can I get for that? Is it OK to sell your boss?


I’m not sure I get the outrage… My grandparrents both donated their bodies for scientific research… If they were chopped up and transferred around the world for medical research, so be it. Am I crazy?

I guess I don’t think people should be getting rich selling body parts, but it’s probably a lot of work to get it done properly and to ensure the material ends up in the right place and not some sketchy back alley…

I recall hearing about some cadaver salespeople in the states who were illegally directing bodies intended for medical research to the military instead… Now that’s fucked up.

edit to say: If people are being misled as to where their bodies are going, that’s not good.


For those who could care less what happens to their remains after they are done with them, selling them would be better than sticking your heirs with the often enormous cost of dealing with the remains.


Late stage capitalism?


I get that there are costs involved with cadaver storage and distribution; nobody’s gonna keep your corpse on ice and ship it to a medical school half a world away for free. I take it the issue here is whether private corporations are exploiting a system that was meant to be a nonprofit scientific endeavor.


As with so much else, this connects back to the worst of American history.


Ten bucks a pound? I’ve had better beef!




From those figures, it doesn’t sound like they’re making a huge amount of money from the probably-nontrivial service of shipping human body parts internationally. I would think the greater threat to science is that this story might cause the descendants of dead Americans to start suing the company for a share of the profits, leading to fewer and/or more expensive corpse chunks for the end users.


Once again proving that it’s the Firesign Theatre’s world, we’re only catching up to it…enjoy “Ralph Spoilsport’s Going Out of Body Sale” from 1998:



I see obvious problems with making a profit off body parts, in the same way there are problems with for-profit prisons: if your supply of humans goes down there is an incentive to do very immoral things to meet demand.



Welcome to for-profit healthcare!


The costs of shipping and handling certainly aren’t zero, but if I donate my body to science, I’d prefer the other guy not make a buck.

(That said, I am hugely for families getting compensated for organ, tissue, and marrow donations)


Agreed, I’d prefer that families receive the profit from the donation.


In which case it ceases to be a “donation” and becomes a “sale.”


Yeah and that sounds icky, but it’s clear that the bodies are already being sold for somebody’s profit… but you also don’t want to create perverse incentives that would compel the poor to sell the dead bodies of their loved ones… I guess it would be better if the whole enterprise was restricted to only non-profit organizations?


That’s my thinking. Not everything has to be monetized.