AP Television - AP Clients Only
Chicago, Illinois - January 15, 2013
1. Various of anatomical gifts on shelves
2. SOUNDBITE: Paul Dudek, Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois
"The heads could be used for any number of different medical specialties.
Ear nose and throat, the ophthalmologists, concussions and brain injuries are a big issue these days, that could be an area a neurologist might be looking into..
3. Various of workers handling anatomical gifts
4. SOUNDBITE: Paul Dudek, Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois
"You can't really study medicine without having a knowledge of anatomy. A whole body donation to our facility or any whole body donation program, you're providing that student with their first patient."
5. Anatomical gifts on shelves
6. Sign "Anatomical gift Association"
7. SOUNDBITE: Paul Dudek, Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois
"You can't really study medicine without having a knowledge of anatomy. A whole body donation to our facility or any whole body donation program, you're providing that student with their first patient.
8. Worker walking out of exam room
9. Chicago O'hare airport international terminal
10. SOUNDBITE: Paul Dudek, Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois
"We have a transport service that we contracted with which is licensed by the state to transport those remains, those heads or other parts to the school or institution that requested them."
11. Lufthansa customer service desk
12. Man entering Homeland Security office
A shipment of 18 frozen human heads discovered and seized by customs officials during a routine X-ray screening of cargo arriving at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, turns out to be medical research material. The anatomical gifts had been used for medical research in Italy and were being returned for cremation in Illinois. The holdup was due to a paperwork problem.
It just so happens such shipments are commonplace, and heads _ quite a few of them _ crisscross the globe via airplane and delivery truck.
"Just last week, we transported eight heads, unembalmed, to Rush University Medical Center for an ophthalmology program," said Paul Dudek, director of the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois, which supplies cadavers and body parts to medical schools in the state for training students.
His association sends about 450 whole cadavers to medical schools each year and also ships individual body parts, including about a dozen shipments of heads annually.
The heads are used for training in fields such as dentistry, ophthalmology and neurology, where they are used for Alzheimer's research, Dudek said.
Most cadavers are obtained through voluntary donation by people who designate a willingness to have their bodies benefit science upon their death, Dudek said. A much smaller proportion are the bodies of people whose families could not afford their burial and so agree to allow the state to release them for research.
The shipment to O'Hare was properly preserved, wrapped and labeled "human specimens," said Mary Paleologos, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, which took hold of the shipment on Monday for storage in its morgue cooler while authorities continued to investigate the paperwork.
With little information initially, news of the shipment's discovery fueled headlines and raised questions about where the shipment came from, where it was headed and why.
In the end, it turned out the shipment of three containers, which arrived in mid-December, was held up because of a mix-up with the paperwork and there was nothing suspicious about it or its destination.