An American family have been left devastated after learning their elderly relative’s body was sold to the US Army for explosives testing.
Doris Stauffer, 73, of Arizona, died in 2013, after suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years. Her son, Jim Stauffer, decided to donate her brain to science, with the hope it would be used for neurological research into Alzheimer’s.
A nurse suggested the family contact the Biological Resource Center (BRC), a company which brokered donated human remains for research purposes. Jim signed a form authorising medical research on Doris’ body, checking a box prohibiting military, traffic-safety and non-medical experiments.
After receiving his mother’s ashes ten days after donation, Jim was not informed how her body had been used.
Reuters proceeded to investigate the case, and found one of Doris’ hands had been detached for cremation.
The rest of her body had been sold and shipped to a US Army research project, where it was blown up in an experiment to measure the effects of roadside bombs. Her brain was not used for Alzheimer’s research, as per her family’s wishes.
According to Reuters, Doris was one of at least 20 used in blast experiments without the consent of donors or their families. The bodies were sold to the US Army for around $5,893 each.
Officials have said they did not receive consent forms along with the bodies. Instead, they had been forced to rely on BRC’s assurances that families or donors had consented to the remains being used in this manner.
As reported by WYMT, Jim has since spoken out about the effects the treatment of his mother’s remains has had on him:
She was then supposedly strapped in a chair on some sort of an apparatus, and a detonation took place underneath her to basically get an idea of what the human body goes through when a vehicle is hit by an IED,
Every time I dream about my mom – I told you she was a quiet person – this person in my dream was angry.
Every time there’s a memory, every time there’s a photograph you look at, there’s this ugly thing that happened just right there, staring right at you. She will never be forgotten here.
Doris’ family are now suing BRC, which closed its doors in 2014 following an FBI raid. Company owner Stephen Gore was sentenced to probation in 2015 after pleading guilty to running an illegal enterprise.
Gore will appear before court in October, facing a civil suit from various families whose loved ones’ remains were misused at the facility and sold for profit.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.