The Body Business: The Donor Game

A News 12/Newsday probe into organ donations found that for-profit companies turned donated bones and tissue into a host of cosmetic products. (4/3/13)

WOODBURY - Organ donors are willing to give the gift of life, but many don't realize they may be contributing to a private medical company's bottom line.

An investigation into organ donations found that for-profit companies turned donated bones and tissue into a host of cosmetic products, from breast augmentation and penile implants to tooth repair.

Medical researcher Laura Siminoff says most organ donors don't want anyone to make money off their body parts, but many don't realize that's what actually happens.

READ MORE: Long Island Top Stories

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) pushed for a law that would require telling donors how their body parts could be used, but the bill never passed.

Still, not everyone agrees that the body parts business needs more oversight.

Dr. Ron Israeli, a plastic surgeon and consultant for a company that sells products made from human skin, says the FDA requires family consent before loved ones' tissue is used. He says the donor and tissue samples are also tested.

Only 18 percent of New Yorkers are organ and tissue donors, which is less than half the national average.

Newsday and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists joined News 12 Long Island in this series.

Related Information:
Four-part International Consortium of Investigation
NYS Health Department: Organ and tissue donations
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles: Organ and tissue donation
Three-part NPR "All Things Considered" 

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