An audacious, disturbing, and compellingly written investigative expose of the lucrative business of procuring, buying, and selling human cadavers and body parts, this book is both a captivating work of first-person reportage and a surprising inside look at a little-known aspect of the death care world.
From the front Cover
Every year some 30 percent of American corpses are cremated. And as journalist Annie Cheney discovered, no one keeps track of them before they reach their final destination. While the government has tight controls on organs and tissue meant for transplantation, there are myriad other uses for cadavers that receive no oversight whatsoever: parts are used in commercial seminars to introduce new medical gadgetry; torsos are used for stomach-stapling surgery practice; bodies are bought by the U.S. Army for land-mine explosion tests. A single corpse can generate up to $100,000. Dead bodies, it turns out, are a billion-dollar business. And, as Cheney found, when there's that much money to be made without regulation, there are all sorts of shady (and fascinating) characters employing questionable practices--deception, distraction, and outright theft. Body parts are shipped via FedEx or driven cross-country packed in garden-variety coolers, and the deceased's families are usually entirely unaware. A favorite aunt has donated her body to help train med students at a university, but the school's boom in corpses, paired with budget problems, lead to her sale to a body broker. The cremated remains her family receives may be only a portion of her body, or not her body at all. Gripping, chilling, and sure to spur media coverage, Body Brokers will make you look at death, and the family-run funeral home down the road, in a whole new way.