The Military Can Buy You To Use For Experiments And "Blast Testing"
When Jim Stauffer donated the remains of his mother, Doris, he did so with the understanding that they'd be used for Alzheimer's research. Now, we're not aware of the exact steps involved in preparing a body to be used in Alzheimer's studies, but we're pretty sure "Strap the dead person to a chair and place a powerful explosive underneath" ain't it.
It turns out that instead of being studied by neurologists, poor Doris was sold to the military, which blew her up as part of an experiment "measuring the damage caused by roadside bombs." Later, her son received all that was left of her: 6 oz of ashes. We understand cremation is never a pleasant process, but this was a rather extreme way of going about it.
And this wasn't a onetime mix-up. In 2004, seven bodies donated to Tulane Medical School were given to a brokerage company, which sold them to the military for $25,000-$30,000 apiece. They were all blown up to test footwear designed to protect against landmines (we're guessing it didn't work very well). "Don't let the military kablooey my corpse" isn't something most people think they have to specify before they croak, yet this has happened even in cases where the deceased did exactly that. Like Kurt Hollstein, a disgruntled veteran who explicitly denied permission for his remains to be used by the military before he died, only to end up in an Army experiment anyway. Because dying of cancer wasn't bad enough.
To be fair to the military, it appears they were unaware that they were using corpses without proper authorization. As of August 2019, dozens of families have filed suit against one body broker, Biological Resource Center (BRC), which made millions of dollars selling donated corpses. That's because ...
There's An Industry Making Huge Money Selling Poor People's Donated Bodies
Donating your body directly to a university's medical school is neither cost- nor hassle-free. It's not as easy as asking a buddy to drop off your vacant shell at a college's main entrance the next time he's going that way. That's why so many people end up leaving their bodies to a broker, who will take care of all that stuff for you out of the kindness of their hearts ... and in exchange for a massive profit.
Reuters conducted a long-term, in-depth investigation of the body brokerage business, and determined that these companies are making big bucks selling corpses, mostly poor people. Brokers often recruit donations through funeral homes or hospice care, and it's not hard to grasp how a low-income family that's exhausted their savings on medical bills could find the prospect of a "free cremation" appealing. Plus, they're helping science! As it turns out, they're only padding the pockets of these brokers with their loved one's remains. Sorry about the mental image.