Editor’s note: This story originally appearedin German magazine Der Spiegel in August, creating an international stir over the sale of human body parts harvested from dead Ukrainians. The Kyiv Post purchased rights to republish the article. Since last summer, Transplant News reported on Oct. 1 that Tutogen Medical GmbH, the German-based pharmaceutical company involved, has been cleared of any illegal trafficking of body parts in Ukraine. Tutogen, a subsidiary of American RTI Biologics, immediately refuted the charges. Joseph Dusel, the chief prosecutor in Bamberg, Germany, told U.S.-based Transplant News: “What the company is doing is approved by the administrative authority by which it is also monitored.”We do not currently see any reason to initiate investigative proceedings.” The body parts are used in transplant surgeries. In mid-September, RTI Biologics issues this statement: “Tutogen Medical, GmbH, operates under very strict regulations from German and Ukrainian authorities as well as other European and American regulatory authorities. They have been inspected regularly by all of these authorities over their many years of operation, and Tutogen remains in good standing with all of them. Importantly, these implants have an excellent safety record and improve the lives of patients around the world.’’ Legal issues aside, the trade also raises ethical issues.
The German company Tutogen’s business in body parts is as secretive as it is lucrative. It extracts bones from corpses in Ukraine to manufacture medical products, as part of a global market worth billions that is centered in the United States.
Anatoly Korzhak, a pensioner and former engineer, died in Kyiv on Aug. 5, 2004. His body was picked up at 2 a.m. and taken to the forensic medicine institute in the Ukrainian capital. That same night, Korzhak’s daughter, Lena Krat, received a telephone call and was asked to come to the institute as soon as possible the following morning, where she was told she would receive further information.