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AAA Calls for Ethical Treatment and Justice for Human Body Donors

By: Martine Dunnwald, AAA President
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
In response to the allegations of illicit buying and selling of stolen body parts from Harvard Medical School's body donation program, the American Association for Anatomy (AAA) stands united in strong condemnation of the commercialization of human body donors and any action that violates donor ethics and trust. Our heartfelt support goes out to the affected families. 

Any act that violates the principles of respect and dignity owed to every individual, in life or death, undermines the sanctity of donor posthumous wishes to promote and advance anatomical research and education. The AAA firmly believes that anatomical donations were never meant to be commercialized. Donor misuse compromises donor and public confidence in ethical human body donation and undermines the integrity of academic institutions and body donation programs who fully comprehend the weight of their role as caretakers of human body donors.

The gravity of abhorrent donor misuse is amplified by the potential ramifications that unethical practices may have on the advancement of anatomical research and education. Individuals who violate donor and public trust should be held accountable under the law. To ensure the ethical, legal, and responsible operation of body donation programs nationwide, the AAA calls upon government and law enforcement agencies, academic institutions, and regulatory bodies for both justice and collaborative reform to prevent the misuse and commodification of human body donors. 

The AAA strives to provide guidance and resources, and strong advocacy, for human body donor programs. As an organization deeply invested in anatomical research and education, the AAA remains resolute in supporting the pursuit of knowledge while upholding the fundamental values of respect and dignity.  The AAA will continue to prioritize the advancement of anatomical sciences while ensuring that the legacy of body donation is honored with the utmost respect and dignity. The AAA and its Human Body Donation Committee will stand steadfast in its mission to promote ethical, legal, and responsible practices within anatomical research and education.