Body Snatchers

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July 20, 2012, 12:46 a.m. | Ukraine — by Vlad Lavrov, Kate Willson, Martina Keller, Thomas Maier and Gerard Ryle

The Mykolaiv regional forensic medicine bureau, where the Security Service of Ukraine is investigating whether employees tricked relatives of dead people into signing consent forms to recover their tissue. Seized documents suggested that the tissue was to be shipped to Germany. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)
© Kostyantyn Chernichkin

Corpses are in high demand internationally. Body parts are harvested for a host of medical and cosmetic surgeries. Ukraine is at the center of this trade, which is dogged by repeated allegations that human tissue has been removed without proper consent and is implanted without patients’ knowledge, sometimes causing infections and even deaths. The global trade clearly lacks oversight.

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