Arizona’s 73-year-old Doris Stauffer died in 2013 after suffering several years from Alzheimer’s. Her son, Jim Stauffer, decided to donate her brain to science, hoping it would be used to research Alzheimer’s.
Rather, her body was sold for explosive testing to the U.S. Army.
A nurse suggested contacting the family for research purposes at the Biological Resource Center (BRC), a company that brokered donated human remains. Jim signed a form authorizing medical research on Doris’s body, checking a box prohibiting military, traffic-safety, and nonmedical experiments.
Reuters investigated the case and discovered that one of doris’s hands had been separated for cremation.
The remainder of her body was sold and transported to a study project of the U..S Army, where it was blown up in an experiment to measure the impacts of bombs on the roadside. Her brain was not used to investigate Alzheimer’s according to the desires of her family.
Her son Jim told Reuters: “She was then supposedly strapped in a chair on some sort of an apparatus, and a detonation took place underneath her to get an idea of what the human body goes through when a vehicle is hit by an IED. Every time I dream about my mom—I told you she was a quiet person—this person in my dream was angry.”
According to Reuters, without the approval of donors or their relatives, Doris was one of at least 20 used in blast studies. The bodies were sold for about $5,893 each to the U.S. Army.
Officials said they did not obtain consent forms. Instead, they were compelled to depend on BRC’s assurances that relatives or donors were willing to use the remains in this way.
Now the Stauffer’s family is suing the Biological Resource Center, the business that sold her body to the U.S. Army.
The lawsuit also included the company owner Stephen Gore. He was sentenced to probation in 2015 after pleading guilty to running an illegal enterprise.
In October, he will appear in court, facing Mrs. Stauffer’s civil suit and other relatives whose bodies have been misused.