By Martina Keller and Markus Grill
Anatoly Korzhak, a pensioner and former engineer, died in Kiev on August 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.
But the employee was persistent and eventually gave her a form to sign. He told her that if she consented to skin removal, she would be helping pediatric burn victims who needed transplants. Krat signed the form. "It was as if I had been hypnotized," she says.
But now Krat, a mother of two young girls, has learned from SPIEGEL that the Ukrainian company in question sends the body parts to a German company, Tutogen Medical GmbH, which in turn apparently supplies large numbers of such parts to the American tissue market.
In addition to strips of skin, tendons, bones and cartilage are removed from the bodies. "This shocks me," says Krat. "If I had known that so much is cut out, I would never have given my consent."
A Lucrative Industry
The incident in the Ukrainian capital is part of the secretive daily routine of a little-known but highly lucrative branch of the medical industry, in which companies use corpses to make medical spare parts. In doing so, they reuse almost everything the human body has to offer: bones, cartilage, tendons, muscle fascia, skin, corneas, pericardial sacs and heart valves. In the jargon of the profession, all of this is referred to as tissue.
Bones and tendons, the parts that interest Tutogen the most, are subjected to complex processing. The company degreases and cleans bones, cuts, saws or mills them into the desired shapes, then sterilizes, packages and sells the finished product in more than 40 countries around the world. With a prescription, it is even possible to order Tutogen's products through online pharmacies.Full story HERE