Who Owns Your Body Parts

WhoOwns Your Body Parts Summary

WhoOwns Your Body Parts Summary


Themilestones that are made in the field of bio medicine have led tohigh demand for postmortem body remains by research institutions. Asa result, there is a moral bearing of such actions with variousparties taking different sides regarding the issue. One of thegreatest issues of contention lies in the basic rice that may be setin such body parts by the government, hospitals, and insurancecompanies (Howley, 2007). Another problem also lies in how themedical quality of body parts in question could be retained as wellas ensuring that they are obtained legally. The issue of fairdistribution of elements in different institutions is also vital asit pertains to ensuring that an element of imbalance is not achievedas far as the use of these items is concerned.

Themoral issue that relates to the use of human body parts involves thegeneral mutilation of a human body. Some people regard such actionsas a far show of lack of dignity towards the body of someone else.They argue that people are quite valuable and need to be treated in amanner that reserves their worth, even after they have died (Howley,2007). The mere imagination of the body of a given individual cutinto different parts causes an upsetting feeling upon many people.This aspect is seen clearly in what happened to the body of AlistairCooke whereby a person arrived in the embalming room and cut off legsfrom the rest of her body.

Anotherissue that comes into view is the right to information, especially asit relates to the next of keen of the deceased. While the father ofCooke was promised a box of ashes for the funeral service, there wasno information given that regards to some parts of the body whichwould be taken from the body of her daughter (Howley, 2007). Thisaction goes against the general ethical practice that needs to beobserved when dealing with a body. The East Harlem Ney York MortuaryService, therefore, decided to trade the body parts of Cooke withouta prior consent of her family and pocketed the money realized.

Thisaction, as a result, begs the question as to a person who has theright ownership towards a given dead body. As much as what themortuary management did was unlawful, such practices take place fromtime to time where some people aim to benefit in ways that are notconsistent with social norms (Howley, 2007). These assertions arewell averred by Professor Todd Olson of Albert Einstein School ofMedicine who indicates that the issues that were observed for thecase of the body of Cook are quite a tip of an iceberg and are morepronounced than would be imagined.

Thereare also cases where some biotechnology companies, middlemen, andprocurement organizations trick donors into making decisions that endup profiting other people more than they profit either them or theirnext of kin (Howley, 2007). They trick such donors with emotionalexcuses as well as some finances and this result such entities makinga lot of money from the sale of their body parts once they aredeceased. Such actions are quite a detriment to the expected humancharacter. It is important for donors to take due caution to dealwith agencies that are keen on working within the confines of thelaw.



  • Improper gains made by mortuaries, biotech companies, and procurement organizations

  • Treating bodies of the dead in a manner that fails to show dignity


  • Proper education of donors on their rights

  • Tightening the enforcement of laws that relate to the acquisition and use of body parts.


  • The improper acquisition of post-mortem body parts


  • Lack of knowledge on the part of donors.

  • Need to make a lot of money by various entities dealing with body parts

Figure1.0 Graphic overview of the problem observed in handling body parts

Figure1.0 shows the visual representation of the problem that is observedwhen dealing with body parts. The causes of these problems areestablished to be the general lack of proper knowledge on the part ofthe donors, especially as it relates to their rights. As a result,there is bound to be a huge chance of mortuaries and various agenciesthat deal with body parts taking advantage of their ignorance as wellas aim to make huge profits through selling their body parts and usethem for economic gains once they have died. Some effects of thesepractices are the general handling of body parts in a way that showslittle regards to the valuable nature of a human being. The entitiesinvolved also end up making large amounts of profits at the expenseof the next of kin of the deceased as well as the donors. Severalsolutions include the general education of potential donors on theirrights as well as tightening of enforcement of laws that relate tothe handling of human body parts.


Howley,K (2007). Who owns your body parts? Everyone’s making Money in theMarket for Body Tissue-Except the Donors. Retrieved from:http://reason.com/archives/2007/02/07/who-owns-your-body-parts