Bad Legs & Broomsticks

In a legal case that is reminiscent of the Alder Hay scandal where children’s organs were retained by pathologists without the consent of the grieving families, we learn today that body parts were also taken without consent from 64 former employees who worked at  the Sellafield nuclear reactor between 1960 and 1991. This was done so as to test for the possible effects of radiation poisoning. A number of organs were removed including all the livers. In addition, some  bones including the femur were taken and allegedly replaced by broomstick handles so that relatives would not notice. What were they thinking? Reminds me of when they stole Alistair Cooke’s bones to flog on the black market for bone transplant. Only the Sellafield cases were done for the good of the workforce.

It was clearly shoddy thinking and I expect consent would have been given but you would be surprised how many families refuse to allow organs to be harvested or retained. As I remember hearing, one typical explanation is “They have suffered enough already,” and “They need to rest.” Strange, isn’t it?

The families in the Sellafield case are said to be shocked by the revelations. One relative is quoted as saying “my family and I have been absolutely devastated as a result of what has gone on. I believe that they showed severe disrespect to my father’s body and I find this mutilation very disturbing.”  But hold on a minute, the last incident happened 19 years ago… and many as far back as 50 years ago.

I am sure financial compensation will make the distress all the more bearable.


Filed under General Thoughts

9 responses to “Bad Legs & Broomsticks

  1. brucehood

    Yup…. I have seen the underbelly of society and it is hairy and warty.

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  3. jacarandamimosifolia

    Indeed. But I’m curious that you say “But hold on a minute, the last incident happened 19 years ago… and many as far back as 50 years ago.” Are you suggesting that the dead realtives have therefore had enough of a ‘rest’ and that therefore the dismemberment should be less of an issue? Why, logically, should the alleged impact of this ‘mutilation’ diminish over time? By the same token, should it, for example, diminsh over distance?

    • brucehood

      I would imagine that the thought of dismemberment would be abhorrent in the immediate situation where there is a tangible corpse. But after decades in the ground or in up in smoke in a crematorium, I would have thought there would be less concern about violation of any remains.

  4. jacarandamimosifolia

    I see. Although the dismemberment would have occured at a point when the corpse was, as you say, tangible. So I would have thought that, although the corpse becomes less so, the concern about the violation would remain just as tangible – at least for the generation immediately following…

  5. jacarandamimosifolia

    It’s worth a try. There’s a funeral directors near my office which proudly displays an ‘Investors in People’ plaque beside it’s front door. This has always struck me as probably the most literal interpretation of the scheme.

    Every morning the pall bearers stand beside this plaque chain smoking furiously and laughing at jokes that I suspect only they would find funny. Obviously they’re not allowed to smoke inside otherwise for fear of damaging the health of their customers…

  6. I agree. My wife and I are considering donating our bodies to science, despite some recent high profile scandals where cadavers for “science” ended up being used in some rather un-science-y ways. What do I care? Hell, use my dead severed arm as a prop in a zombie movie for all I care, I’m not gonna feel it. heh…

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