KING5 in Seattle reports:
The family of David Saunders, 98, learned of the autopsy from a KING 5 investigation that exposed the Oct. 17 cadaver class in Portland, Oregon. A similar event in Seattle was canceled.
Event organizers sold tickets for up to $500 to the public to view in-person the autopsy and dissection of a human body. The event is part of the Oddities and Curiosities Expo, which travels across the country.
“It makes me really feel saddened that this gentleman was not given the dignity and the respect that he deserved and what he thought and his family thought that would be happening to his body,” Mike Clark, a funeral director in Baton Rouge, La., told the station.
Clark prepared Saunders' body before transferring it to a private company that the family of the deceased believed would use it for medical research. But instead, KING5 reported, the body wound up as the main attraction in a Marriott hotel ballroom in Portland as he was dissected before a live audience that paid to observe.
A group of funeral directors notified Clark following the KING5 investigation and report.
“I was totally horrified,” Clark said. “Our whole staff was horrified that this is what had happened to a gentleman that he and his family thought that his body was going for the advancement of medical students.”
KING5 adds: "Clark said Med Ed Labs, a Las Vegas company that solicits body donations purportedly for medical and science research, never told him or the family that Saunders’ remains would be used in such a manner. He also said the funeral home has stopped working with Med Ed Labs."
But Jeremy Ciliberto, founder of DeathScience.org and the organizer of the sick event, claimed that the family knew what was going to happen to Saunders' body.
“I can guarantee that that man knew his body would be used for medical research," Ciliberto told the local outlet.
But a Med Ed Labs administrator, the firm that sold Saunders' corpse to Ciliberto, said the DeathScience.org founder was being "beyond" dishonest in his dealings with the company.
The administrator, Obteen Nassiri, said Ciliberto told him that he would be using Saunders' body for a medical class.
KING5 reported previously that another such event, which was scheduled for Halloween day in Seattle, was canceled after word got out about the ghoulish nature of the 'class.'
“Unfortunately for Seattle and the north west (sic), team members have decided to cancel the event in your area,” Ciliberto told KING5.
“We feel that this was not respectful and certainly not ethical,” Kimberly DiLeo, the chief medical death investigator for the Multnomah County, Ore., Medical Examiner, told the local outlet, which reported:
Paying customers filed into a lower floor ballroom at the Marriott Downtown Waterfront hotel. On a table in the center of the ballroom, a figure lay draped in a white sheet. The VIP customers, who paid the $500 ticket price, sat in the front row inches from the table.
Dr. Colin Henderson, a retired professor of anatomy from the University of Montana in Missoula, removed the covering and exposed the body of an 86-year-old dead man that Henderson said “…had donated his body to science.”
During the autopsy, Henderson cut into the chest cavity, exposed the brain, and several other organs over the course of several hours.
“It was very educational,” said a woman named Monica who attended the event in Portland. “It was very respectful to the person that donated their body.”
For the record, Ciliberto isn't concerned about the criticism; he says he's looking for more venues to hold the gruesome events around the country next year.