Gift of Life: Why your organ donation probably won't end up in the wrong hands

MICHIGAN LIVE | Gus Burns


As federal authorities revealed one gruesome discovery after another in the trial and sentencing of body broker Arthur Rathburn earlier this year, the bizarre circumstances of the case raised questions about exactly how organ and tissue donations work.

While the postmortem destinations and the handling of donated kidneys, hearts, livers, corneas, bone, skin and other body parts can vary widely, there is one constant: Your corpse is worth a lot of money.

The heirs or estates of the dead see little to no financial benefit as a cadaver makes its way through the supply chain and is divided. They make the donation, as Michigan's Gift of Life organization says, out of a "selfless desire to save others."

But donated organs and tissue generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity.

Gift of Life, a nonprofit with nearly $60 million in annual revenue and over $50 million in assets, coordinated the transplant of 876 organs to recipients from 320 donors in 2017. Continue reading

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