Inside the brutal world of America’s body harvesting industry
Sam Kazemi stood over the old man’s corpse. Nearby lay pliers, a scalpel and a motorized saw designed to cut drywall and pipe.
On a busy day, Kazemi might harvest body parts from five or six people who had donated their bodies to science. On this day in November 2013, the corpse before Kazemi typified the donors who gave their remains to his employer, Biological Resource Center.
The man was a retired factory worker with a ninth-grade education. He had lived with his wife in a mobile home in Mohave Valley, Arizona, and had died six days earlier, aged 75. His name was Conrad Patrick.
But after he died and his body was donated, Patrick became a commodity, known by the company’s initials and a number: BRC13112103.
Reuters reviewed thousands of internal BRC records and confidential law enforcement documents containing profiles of Patrick and 2,280 other donors. The documents include invoices and inventories for thousands of body parts harvested from those people. They show how their bodies were dissected, which body parts were sent where, and why buyers obtained them.