Death Science Says It Had a Contract to Use Vet's Body for Education After Widow's Dispute

The use of a man's cadaver for a public dissection to which tickets were sold has upset his widow, the Associated Press reported.

The organization Death Science said it bought the body and organized its public dissection to be used for education. The business said the body was used in its Cadaver Lab Class in accordance with the language in a contract.

The dissection took place on October 17 in Portland, Oregon. Tickets were sold through the Oddities and Curiosities Expo, which touts itself as a draw for the "lovers of the strange, unusual and bizarre." They go on to say: "We truly have something weird for everyone at our shows."

KING-TV in Seattle identified the cadaver as David Saunders, 98, a World War II and Korean War veteran from Baker, Louisiana. Saunders' widow, Elsie, was aghast at how her husband's body was used.

"I have all this paperwork that says his body would be used for science—nothing about this commercialization of his death," she told The Advocate of Baton Rouge.

Death Science said in a statement Friday that its contract with Med Ed Labs of Las Vegas certified that the cadaver could be used for research, medical and educational purposes.

"My goal was to create an educational experience for individuals who have an interest in learning more about human anatomy. We understand that this event has caused undue stress for the family and we apologize for that," wrote Jeremy Ciliberto, who described himself as "communications consultant" for the group, AP reported.

Despite his description as a communications consultant, KING-TV described him as a founder of Death Science.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Human Body, Cadaver, Skeletal
The use of a man's cadaver for a public dissection to which tickets were sold has upset his widow. Above, a visitor inspects a display at the Human Body exhibition in St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 17, 2015. (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images) Getty Images

Ciliberto told the station that Death Science paid more than $10,000 for the cadaver. About 70 people paid $100 to $500 to attend its dissection, depending on whether they were doing so virtually or in person, the seat location and whether they were watching for a whole or half a day, the prepared statement said.

Death Science did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday from AP, including a question about whether it had held similar classes in the past.

"Med Ed Labs provided the cadaver, supplied the anatomist (the individual who instructed/conducted the class), tools and equipment for the procedure, a completed serology report, booked the venue for the course, and was responsible for the handling of the cadaver before, during and after the event," the Death Science statement said.

Med Ed manager Obteen Nassiri told the newspaper that he did not know people would be buying tickets. Death Science had promised everything would be professional, he said.

Death Science said it had been in touch with Nassiri for months, "including, but not limited to, the fact that the attendees are not exclusively medical students and ticket sales."

Both said it was Death Science's first contract with Med Ed, and would be the last. The company had been slated to provide a cadaver for a Halloween class in Seattle that was canceled after KING-TV's reports.

"Death Science and Med Ed Labs dissolved their working relationship and the event was canceled," Death Science's statement said.