Grieving mother Mary Anderson said all she was trying to do was find out what led to the death of her 51-year-old son, Vance Anderson. Instead, she said staff at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University Hospital removed her son’s brain, eyes, and other internal organs were removed during an autopsy without the family’s consent.
“He was just a loving person. He showed love and he wanted love. I let him down. I feel guilty,” Mary Anderson told MyFoxPhilly. “They gutted him out. He is just a shell. Part of him,where is it in the garbage or somewhere? Where's he at?”
Although Anderson recalls signing the hospital’s autopsy-permission form, she said the fine print was not clear about what would happen with her son’s organs. Anderson’s attorney, Glenn Ellis, also said the hospital staff did not do their job in explaining the condition that her son would be delivered to the undertaker. The hospital’s permission form said nothing about removing organs for educational purposes.
“They believed, according to the doctor we spoke to, the organs were donated for educational purposes,” Ellis told MyFoxPhilly. “They were not and after they were done, they disposed them as hazardous waste something completely not consented to by the family.”
During a deposition last month, Ellis asked the person who signed the autopsy report, Dr. John Farber: "After you were done teaching those residents and perhaps any medical students who were present, what happened to the organs?" According to the transcript, Farber responded “I don’t know.”
"When performing complete autopsies, it is customary for academic medical centers, that are engaged in educating future doctors, to remove and retain organs and tissues for teaching and continued analysis," hospital spokeswoman Jackie Kozloski said in a statement.