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U.S Funeral Homes Selling Body Parts

In the United States, funeral homes and cemeteries have a duty to handle the remains in their care with dignity and respect. They must also uphold the wishes of the deceased and their loved ones. Unfortunately, some funeral homes commit heinous and immoral acts—including the sale of human body parts.

It is highly illegal for a funeral home to sell body parts without the permission of their clients and their families. If you or your family suspects that your loved one’s remains where mishandled, you have the right to pursue legal action against the funeral home and recover compensation for the harm that you have suffered. 

Is the Sale of Body Parts Legal in the United States?

There are few regulations on the sale of cadavers and body parts for research and educational purposes in the United States, and the practice is more common than we believe. According to a series by Reuters, body brokers make millions of dollars selling cadavers to medical organizations, non-profits, and other buyers. Usually, the deceased have donated their bodies to these organizations directly. 

However, a deceased person must provide express permission for his or her remains to be handled in this way. It is illegal to steal a person’s remains in order to sell body parts, or to sell the remains of the deceased without permission from their families. Selling organs for transplant is also highly illegal.

U.S. Funeral Home Owners Convicted for Selling Body Parts

In July 2022, a Colorado funeral home owner named Megan Hess pleaded guilty to defrauding relatives of her deceased clients by selling their body parts. Hess owned a funeral home called Sunset Mesa and operated a body-harvesting business called Donor Services out of the same building. Many families trusted Hess’s business to handle their loved ones with integrity and care, and the company even offered low prices for cremation to attract low-income clients.

Unfortunately, Hess would dissect their loved one’s bodies and sell their parts without their knowledge or consent. The funeral home would give the families bins of dirt, metal, and bone material and pretend that it was the ashes of their loved ones.

Hess is facing up to 20 years in prison for fraud. However, this sentence will do little to reverse the trauma and the pain of the family members who do not know what happened to their loved ones’ remains. 

Speak to a Texas Funeral & Cemetery Negligence Attorney

The illegal sale of human remains occurs far too often than we may believe. If you suspect that your loved one’s remains were mishandled, it is important to report the home to the authorities as soon as possible and retain an attorney who can help you and your family seek justice.

A Texas funeral and cemetery negligence attorney can help your family file a lawsuit against the funeral home and fight to hold the business accountable. While no amount of compensation could reverse what happened, pursuing legal action can prevent the facility from committing these heinous acts in the future. 

After you report the incident to the police, contact a lawyer to discuss your next steps.