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Authorities raid organ harvesting center in Phoenix

Most Phoenix, Arizona, residents associate medical malpractice claims with hospitals, doctors' offices and other facilities that provide treatment to live patients. Though hospital negligence generally does have to do with the treatment of living individuals, a recent news story involves a different kind of negligence. Federal agents aren't giving out many details about a raid that occurred at a body-donation center in Phoenix, but it's not the first time the business's owner has faced trouble.

In 1997, the owner of the body-donation center was employed by the Donor Network of Arizona. The Donor Network was a non-profit organization that harvested organs for use in science. The organs were harvested in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.

In 1997, a man died during a knee replacement surgery. He had previously agreed to donate his eyes to science. According to a lawsuit filed against the Donor Network, the man's genitals were removed as well. The owner of the body-donation center currently under investigation was involved in the removal of the man's eyes in 1997 and was deposed in court in that case.

According to reports, the jury found the hospital responsible in the case and awarded the family of the deceased man $2 million. There is no report on what the current center is being investigated for. Federal agents entered the premises in hazmat suits, but they did inform individuals living in the area that there was no danger. According to a spokesperson, the investigation had been going on for a year before agents entered the premises on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

According to media profiles on the business that was recently raided, the company harvests tissue and organs for medical researchers. Some organs are also used by surgeons to practice techniques. The rest of the remains are cremated and returned to families in an attractive box.

Any family wants to see medical staff do everything they can to treat loved ones and keep them alive. In the event a loved one passes and has given consent for organ or tissue donation, families are likely to be concerned with the ethical and respectful treatment of the bodies. If families find out liberties were taken or unethical actions occurred, they might be able to seek damages for increased pain and suffering.

Source: AZCentral, "Phoenix body-donation center target of federal raid" D. S. Woodfill, Jan. 22, 2014

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