Man Who Died Of COVID ‘Dissected’ In Front Of Paying Audience Without Family’s Consent

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Autopsy

The family of a man who died of COVID-19 claims his body was dissected in front of a paying audience without their consent.

The remains of David Saunders, 98, were reportedly used in a cadaver class held in Portland, Oregon on October 17.

Saunders was allegedly ‘dissected’ as part of a live autopsy.

The event, which was hosted by Death Science — a website, podcast and YouTube channel — is part of the Oddities and Curiosities Expo, which travels across the country.

Tickets cost $500 and audience members who attended allegedly watched Saunders’ body undergo an autopsy in a Portland Marriott hotel ballroom.

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Mike Clark, a funeral director in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was responsible for preparing Saunders’ body and says neither he nor the family knew what would take place.

He says the family did know his body was going to a private company but believed the corpse would be used for medical research.

“It makes me really feel saddened that this gentleman was not given the dignity and the respect that he deserved and what he thought and his family thought that would be happening to his body,” said Clark.

Saunders’ remains were reportedly handed off to MedEd labs, a Las Vegas company that solicits body donations that they claim are used for medical and science research.

MedEd labs then, allegedly, sold Saunders’ remains to Death Science.

Clark had learned about the event from fellow funeral directors who were aware of similar live-autopsies. 

“I was totally horrified,” Clark said. “Our whole staff was horrified that this is what had happened to a gentleman that he and his family thought that his body was going for the advancement of medical students.”

Event organizers says Saunders gave consent to the live-autopsy.

Founder of DeathScience.org Jeremy Ciliberto, claims that Saunders and his family did give consent.

“I can guarantee that that man knew his body would be used for medical research," Ciliberto said.

However, Obteen Nassiri, an administrator for MedEd Labs, accused Ciliberto of being “beyond” dishonest in his dealings with Med Ed. 

Nassiri said Cilberto claimed he would use the body for a medical class.

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Aside from the obvious moral issues at play, the use of Saunders’ remains also creates a health risk.

Because his death certificate lists COVID-19 as his cause of death, using his infected remains in front of a live audience could be extremely dangerous. 

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Nassiri did not explain why he supplied a COVID-infected donor to a client, although he said his company usually checks that out.

The Oddities and Curiosities Expo has been sharply criticized.

Following the Portland show where Saunders’ autopsy took place, organizers of the touring event have come under fire.

A Seattle event was even cancelled amid the backlash.

“We feel that this was not respectful and certainly not ethical,” said Kimberly DiLeo, the chief medical death investigator for the Multnomah County, Oregon Medical Examiner.

However, Cilberto has defended the event as an educational experience and several attendees did insist everything was handled respectfully.

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.