The trade in human body parts is a seller’s market, reports the Los Angeles Times. Pharmaceutical makers buy everything from fingernails to tendons for research. Medical instrument firms training doctors use knees or heads that surgeons use to acquaint themselves with new devices and techniques. The human-tissue industry is thought to be worth $500 million a year. It is illegal to earn money from the sale of human body parts, but the law allows middlemen to cover costs by charging “reasonable” fees.
The alleged theft of body parts by employees at the UCLA medical school is the latest in a series of scandals involving cadavers. The willed body program’s director, Henry Reid, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of grand theft.