Man donates mother's body to science, discovers it was sold to the military for "blast testing"

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While I agree that there should be a more transparency around donating one’s body to science, this is the kind of stuff that’s done. Sure, there’s a use for cadavers in medical schools, but this use isn’t outside the bounds of “science”.


I feel sorry for those test technicians and anyone else who had to clean up that mess.


This is not an issue of transparency.


Yes, this is a legit use for human cadavers if you’re trying to figure out how to build vehicles that save lives. That kind of testing is a major part of the reason the odds of surviving a car crash are so much higher today.

Maybe the solution is to just have donors specify which kinds of testing they are or are not OK with.

EDIT: Oh, I see that’s what they did and the company ignored it. Carry on then.


I suppose cutting out the middleman and selling direct to the Army is not allowed?


“She was then supposedly strapped in a chair on some sort of apparatus, and a detonation took place underneath her to basically kind of get an idea of what the human body goes through when a vehicle is hit by an IED.”

You’d think the US military would already have real-world ‘data’ on this.


My first real research job in college involved working with donated human brains. Donated remains are important for a wide array of valuable research, and having people know that those remains will be used in a respectful way for research that provides some benefit to humanity is really critical. Otherwise people won’t donate, and the research won’t get done.


Controlled tests are an important part of the process. If you want to know if, say, a new seat design is going to protect an occupant from lethal injury then it’s useful to test it with someone who doesn’t mind getting blown up.

But again, you still need informed consent from the donor. I wouldn’t mind if my corpse was used to test automobile safety but many others doubtlessly would.


Am I the only one who would actually request being exploded after I die? I mean cremation is so passé, but knowing that I was going to EXPLODE after my meat bag stops breathing would be kind of cool.


Very true, and by “transparency” I was intending that to include traceability, proper handling of consent, and accountability.

Comments I’m seeing elsewhere are less about the process and abuse of it but rather about the horrible nature of the testing here, which is a separate issue.

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For a lot of this type of testing they already have really good models, both meatspace and digital that can assess damage pretty well. Finite element analysis is going to give you a really good idea of where impact has affected specific organs and to what extent they were affected. Ballistics dummies also seem pretty robust, these days. I suppose these methods fall short in showing you how tissue is damaged, but I imagine that there is already pretty robust data showing what certain levels of impulse do to various organs abd tussyes.

Do we really need to actually blow up cadavers to determine how a bomb is going to affect a human body? Probably not. Is it cheaper? Probably if you are a guy who has purchased too many bodies wholesale and doesn’t have enough legitimate outlets for them.

Also I imagine the military contractor conducting these tests was probably pretty sleazy as well.


Those tools are great, but the only way to create a crash test dummy or digital model that provides an accurate simulation of how a human body sustains injuries is to actually apply those same forces to a human body to see what happens.


What a coincidence; I was thinking of starting a funeral business offering to blow up your loved one’s remains rather than bury or cremate them. Sorta along the lines of that whale carcass in Oregon, since that went so well.


That’s called enlisting.


Sure you need to validate those models. If my mothers body was used for such research, I’d probably also be a bit shocked, but at least I’d know that its good science and not lazy demolitions testing.

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I disagree that using a human body instead of a simulated one is a “lazy” approach or bad science because even the most advanced simulation of a human body cannot yield as much detailed information as an actual human body.

For example, Ford recently started marketing cars with inflatable seat belts but testing the technology required understanding how the forces involved impacted internal organs, which is something a dummy simply can’t tell you.


I would always be haunted if i found out this happened to a loved one of mine, i just can’t see how anyone would get over it.


If I’m done with it, I’m okay with a lot of scientific experimentation done on my corpse. It depends how I croaked if any of my organs can be reused, which might invalidate some tests.


I’m with @brainspore on this one. The science that goes into surviving these explosions got turned up to 11 in the last two decades. After a rough start, many lives were saved. Saving lives is a good thing.