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Firm probed for illegal corpse tissue trade

The Local · 25 Aug 2009, 16:41

Published: 25 Aug 2009 16:41 GMT+02:00

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News magazine Der Spiegel this week revealed 1,000 pages of internal company documents detailing the lucrative business for body parts, reporting that family members were often not aware of what would happen to their loved ones after they died. On Tuesday, the magazine reported that in addition to being under investigation by state authorities, the company had dealings with a notorious US citizen jailed in 2008 for illegally harvesting human organs.

Between 2000-2001, some 1,152 Ukrainian bodies were used to make tissue implant products that were sold mainly to the United States in what has become a billion-dollar industry, the magazine said. One body can be harvested for up to $250,000 in prepared parts.

The Bamberg state prosecutor’s office said Monday it had opened an investigation of the Neunkirchen am Brand-based pharmaceutical company for desecration of the dead and illegal human tissue trade. Senior Prosecutor Joseph Düsel told the magazine that law enforcement officials had been notified by a witness in 2003, but this person refused to give details. Another anonymous tip in 2005 also did not lead to an investigation, he said.

“It’s also illegal when Germans commit a crime abroad,” Düsel said.

A Tutogen company statement on Monday rejected the magazine’s claims.

“The accusation of illegal tissue trade from the media is weak and incomprehensible,” the statement said, adding that the company maintained strict adherence to medical laws. “The tissue removal from a deceased donor is documented in detail and takes place with respect to all ethical principles of the donor and their family.”

But on Tuesday the magazine alleged that Tutogen bought around 1,000 corpses from Michael Mastromarino, an American sentenced to up to 58 years behind bars in 2008 for running an illegal body parts operation. His company, Biomedical Tissue Services (BTS), conducted underhanded deals with East Coast funeral homes, sometimes buying bodies that were so riddled with disease they were unfit to use for tissue implants. Mastromarino would then fake blood tests and family releases.

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Mastromarino sold body parts to Tutogen Medical Inc., the US parent company of Tutogen GmbH., among four other companies. Tutogen creates tissue transplants made from human or animal bones, fascia, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.

The company has said it was not aware of BTS’s underhanded business practices and refused to speak with Der Spiegel on Tuesday.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:00 February 18, 2010 by Justice4Jack
What I am saying is my brother was murdered, and the funeral home sold his body to Philip Guyett, who in turn, chopped him up and sold him to tissue banks and only God knows who else! This butcher also bought countless stolen bodies, and the FDA and DOJ refuse to tell the families of the victims he plundered without knowledge or consent!

This is NOT isolated, and happens 365/24/7! Innocent people have been implanted with cancer, aids, and other diseases from these corpses, and NOTHING has changed!

Yes this is surreal, but is also REALITY! There is the problem of demand and supply, and unscrupulous people, including doctors and hospitals that knows this, and looks away!

The reality is also that people are plundered, even murdered alive for "tissue procurement!"

I would NEVER imagined this, you cannot fathom what our and many other families have been going through to seek answers and justice!

Your idealogies are just that, and I know because we have lived it! I also personally had cancer 10 years ago, and can say after all I have endured, that I would not donate, nor receive donated tissue. This is my personal choice, and this is not the point I am trying to make.

The FACTS of organ harvesting is billions of dollars, more than it is about saving lives! This is an extremely organized global racket, and my goal to have justice for my brother who was actually murdered twice, for the other families of the victims Guyett destroyed, and to educate the public of the truths of organ procurement!
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