Exclusive: Dutch hospitals to drop U.S. body agents, cite ethical concerns
AMSTERDAM – Two primary Dutch hospitals say they are going to forestall uploading human body portions from American companies, which they’ve been doing with none law for a decade.
Outside view of Erasmus MC Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands December eight, 2018. REUTERS/Eva Plevier
The hospitals instructed Reuters in contemporary weeks they made their selections on ethical grounds. The transfer comes amid investigations by way of U.S. legislation enforcement into some so-called body agents – corporations that download the lifeless, regularly thru donation, dissect them and promote the portions for benefit.
Earlier this 12 months, Reuters reported that one dealer underneath scrutiny by way of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation – Portland, Oregon-based MedCure – has used a Dutch hub to distribute tens of hundreds of kilograms of human body portions throughout Europe since 2012. U.S. government suspect MedCure offered body portions tainted with illness to American and international consumers, a priority induced partly by way of such shipments to Canada and Hong Kong, in accordance to folks acquainted with the investigation.
Reuters discovered that importers of U.S. body portions incorporated two Dutch hospitals. The information company exposed no proof body portions used within the Netherlands have been inflamed, however the Dutch hospitals mentioned they’d drop the providers in reaction to reporting by way of Reuters which raised questions on how the agents obtained body donations.
The nation’s greatest medical institution, Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center (AMC), mentioned it purchased between 300 and 500 heads from U.S. agents, which up to now incorporated MedCure, to quilt a shortfall. The portions, used for analysis and coaching lessons, have been purchased as early as 2008 and as not too long ago as Nov. 21, the medical institution mentioned.
Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam mentioned it purchased knees and shoulders from a U.S. provider however declined to supply main points. The medical institution mentioned it used the portions for analysis and coaching lessons which have been no longer designed to make earnings.
The well being ministry declined to remark at the hospitals’ resolution, and mentioned there’s no explicit regulatory body which oversees using such samples.
From 2012 to 2016, in accordance to manifest information reviewed by way of Reuters, MedCure shipped body portions valued at a complete of greater than $500,000 from the United States to the Netherlands. MedCure mentioned it is helping attach donors and clinical, analysis and scientific entities. “We are an accredited and regulated institution and adhere to the best-in-class industry standards for safety ethics, and transparency,” the corporate mentioned in a commentary to Reuters.
Dutch rules govern using donated organs, the transportation of our bodies and cremation, however there are none pertaining to body portions used for coaching or analysis, Dutch Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins instructed parliament in April.
The well being ministry mentioned it noticed no use to control the industry in body portions as a result of hospitals take precautions.
In the Netherlands and far of Europe, individuals who bequeath their our bodies to analysis accomplish that as a charitable donation, without a fee concerned. In the United States, many agents be offering donor households unfastened cremation in go back for donating a body – a possible saving of up to $1,000.
AMC’s present provider Science Care, one of the vital greatest body agents in America, isn’t underneath FBI investigation, the corporate instructed Reuters; an FBI spokeswoman mentioned coverage prevents the company announcing whether or not an organization is or isn’t being scrutinized. But Science Care’s trade style rankles some Dutch lawmakers and docs.
Freek Dikkers, the professor of ear, nostril and throat medication on the AMC whose division purchased the heads, mentioned it used to be preventing after finding out that the corporate solicits donors at hospices and outdated age houses and that its former homeowners earned thousands and thousands from the industry. Dikkers mentioned that used to be “unacceptable.”
One frozen head from Science Care that handed thru Dutch airport customs belonged to a 53-year-old who died in April 2017 after remedy to take away a mind tumor. Although the declared price of the top at the customs shape used to be $25, the going price for a human head within the U.S. marketplace is lately round $500, Reuters discovered. Science Care didn’t reply to a request for remark about the cost of body portions.
Neither of the hospitals would say how a lot they paid for the portions. The heads have been used, every so often a couple of instances, to teach younger docs ahead of they operated on are living sufferers, mentioned Dikkers.
“It was a rising trend in recent years, initially around 30, and then increasing to 50 (per year), in four shipments,” he mentioned in an interview with Reuters and Dutch TV program Nieuwsuur.
The AMC mentioned paperwork equipped by way of U.S.-based agents indicated the heads the medical institution purchased examined detrimental for illness. A medical institution spokeswoman mentioned it had no longer performed its personal checks, however docs at all times put on protecting clothes.
Science Care mentioned it follows all rules and has been permitted by way of the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). The corporate makes use of “an extensive medical screening process for our donors, including testing for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV-1, and HIV-2, to reduce potential risks.” All specimens are packaged and shipped in accordance to global requirements, it mentioned.
The Rotterdam medical institution, Erasmus, mentioned it imported body portions – most commonly pattern knee and shoulder joints – for orthopedic surgical treatment lessons. It declined to say how lengthy it has imported the portions, which corporate or corporations equipped them, or what number of it has purchased.
RISE LABS Even despite the fact that the hospitals say they plan to forestall the use of the U.S. providers, the trade of sending body portions throughout the Netherlands continues.
Rhenus Logistics, a Dutch corporate, transported and saved body portions for MedCure between 2015 and 2018. The contract ended this 12 months, mentioned Rhenus spokeswoman Ellen Visser, when MedCure arrange its personal Dutch distribution hub.
A month later, a brand new corporate used to be established within the Netherlands: Rise Labs, with 3 folks affiliated to MedCure indexed as board individuals. From two addresses in Amsterdam, it provides “services to donors leaving their whole body and providing services to medical professionals working in the field of anatomical research.”
The corporate didn’t reply to requests for remark. A receptionist at one Rise Labs’ deal with didn’t open the door when a reporter known as for remark. MedCure declined to remark.
Reporting by way of Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam and John Shiffman in Washington, D.C.; Edited by way of Blake Morrison and Sara Ledwith