Sunday, May 23, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed to this blog, but I’ve been swamped with work. Looks like CHOP SHOP will be released May 1, 2012. That’s a long way away, but it’s surprising just how fast deadlines creep up. For those of you who don’t know about it, it deals with the huge lucrative market for cadavers and assorted body parts. In doing my research for the story I was amazed to learn that selling bodies is illegal in most states. Yet every few years you read in the news about someone in a funeral home or coroner’s office who is busted for dealing. It’s rumored that a fresh body in good condition can fetch up to $300,000 dollars.

Some medical schools still use cadavers to teach anatomy, although this is becoming more the exception. It’s not that a supply of bodies is lacking, it’s that this gross anatomy is no longer considered essential curriculum in some schools. So how are bodies obtained by med schools? Because people will their bodies to “science,” usually to a local medical school. But this isn’t the need that drives the black market. Demand comes from a variety of parts that can be “salvaged” from a fresh body. Skin for grafting on burn patients, corneas to replace cloudy ones, bone for use in spinal fusions, This doesn’t count the need for the soft tissue organs used for transplants – kidneys, liver, hearts. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. For remain functional, organs such as kidneys, are usually harvested from living patients and immediately transplanted in the recipient. This because anoxia (being without oxygen) can severely damage them.

If you want to learn more about this intriguing but grizzly subject, keep an eye out for CHOP SHOP. I will, or course, push it on my website and send out the usual spam to anyone unlucky enough to be on my mailing list. The other books after SHOP will be STEM SELL and CUCKOO’S NEST. Stay tuned.

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