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TikToker Selling Human Bones Online Sparks Debate

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 18 Oct 2021 23:07
@jonsbones/TikTok

A massive ethics debate has been sparked after a TikToker went viral for selling human bones via his account. 

Jon-Pichaya Ferry has sparked controversy after he used his TikTok account to advertise his osteological supply company, based in New York City.

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The 21-year-old may have over 502,200 followers and 22.1 million likes on the platform, but his videos of bones, including foetus skulls, have not been appreciated by everyone, with some viewers questioning how ethical it is to sell human body parts.

Ethics Debate Sparked By TikToker Selling Human Bones (Alamy)Alamy

Ferry, known as @Jonsbones, displays his collection of bones from his home, selling the bones online and posting videos discussing the science behind them. On his website, Ferry sells ribs for $18, while skulls come with around a $2,000 price tag.

Ferry told ABC News that his customers tend to be ‘chiropractors to universities to artists’, but also include search and rescue teams to help train search dogs.

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Typically, skulls and bones sold by osteology companies are sourced from unidentified bodies, The Independent reports. Ferry noted that his mainly come from ‘medical sources that were used for medical education’.

Through advertising his business on TikTok, Ferry hopes to ‘destigmatise a stigmatised industry’ and make osteology accessible, however, a debate around the morality of such work has been sparked as a result of his videos.

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His post showing the development of a skull from foetal to adult has amassed over 1.2 million views, 198,900 likes and 5,430 comments, with users flooding to the TikTok in split reactions to Ferry’s profession. One said: ‘Low key macabre but very interesting, scientifically speaking of course.’

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Another wrote: 

Please tell me those are not real.

A third commented: ‘What if you walk into that room at night?’

Assistant anatomy professor at the Chiropractic College in New York, Robyn Wakefield Murphy, also found Ferry’s use of TikTok to promote his selling of the skulls controversial. ‘Human remains should never be sold. There are legitimate, ethical ways for institutions and researchers to obtain human bodies for research, and that is through cadaveric donation programs,’ she said.

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Law professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, Tanya Marsh, noted how it was ‘unethical’ to sell the bones, as there ‘is no consent’.

Marsh went on to explain how people ‘don’t request to be skeletonised before they pass’, referencing ‘foetus skulls’ in particular. ‘It is not privileged members of society whose bones end up being sold; it is people who are marginalised while they are alive, and they are further dehumanised and marginalised during death,’ she said.

While banned on Facebook, Instagram and eBay, in the US, it is legal to sell human remains within some restrictions. However, Marsh noted that it is a ‘grey area in the law’.

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Ferry acknowledged that the selling of human bones was a ‘sensitive topic’, but stated his belief that the ‘original purpose of these pieces were for education and understanding’. His website also tells buyers to ‘treat these bones with as much respect as possible’.

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Topics: Viral, TikTok

Credits

The Independent and 1 other
  1. The Independent

    TikToker selling human bones — including fetus skulls — spark ethics debate

  2. ABC News

    TikTok user sells human bones, ignites ethical debate online