Transplanted body parts could save your eyesight, your smile, your ability to walk … but the question is from where they were taken. The Sydney Morning Herald peeks inside a booming new business:
“Two ribs, two Achilles heels, two elbows, two eardrums, two teeth, and so on” … On February 24, Ukrainian authorities made an alarming discovery: bones and other human tissues crammed into coolers in a grimy white minibus. Investigators grew even more intrigued when they found, amid the body parts, envelopes stuffed with cash and autopsy results written in English.
[It] was not the work of a serial killer but part of an international pipeline of ingredients for medical and dental products that are routinely implanted into people around the world … the remains of dead Ukrainians were destined for a factory in Germany belonging to the subsidiary of a US medical products company, Florida-based RTI Biologics.
RTI is one of a growing industry of companies that make profits by turning mortal remains into everything from dental implants to bladder slings to wrinkle cures. The industry has flourished even as its practices have roused concerns about how tissues are obtained.
In the US alone, the biggest market and the biggest supplier, an estimated two million products derived from human tissue are sold each year, a figure that has doubled over the past decade.