Jill Hansen: Woman 'devastated' after knowing husband's body donated to science was used as crash test dummy
PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Jill Hansen, who donated her husband Steve Hansen's body to science, was shocked to learn that it had been used as a crash test dummy. Steve signed up to be an organ donor in 2012 after deciding to donate his body to science, but his registration was denied after he died from liver cirrhosis. Medical professionals advised Jill that Steve's body wasn't in good enough condition for organ donation and proposed donating it to science instead.
She accepted the proposal and thought it would be beneficial for doctors to study more about how alcohol affects the body after he registered under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. Jill stated, "What I envisioned was him being in some medical facility. I just thought, what a great candidate for them to learn about the results of alcoholism and what it does to a body," as reported by CBS. Steve's body was eventually transported to the Biological Resource Center in Phoenix, Arizona, where it was later purchased by the Department of Defense.
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What is the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act?
One of the few laws regulating the non-transplant tissue market is the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, a law that 47 states have adopted. In particular, it stipulates that before a donation of a body can take place, the donor or a member of their family must give informed consent.
This is a crucial need because it establishes the requirements for body donation. The standard clause in these consent agreements between donors and tissue banks states that the body will be used for research and education, but the actual implementation of this clause can differ.
'I just kept telling him I was sorry'
Jill was shocked to discover that her husband's body had actually been transferred from the Biological Research Institute to the Department of Defense. She eventually learned that her husband's body had been used as a crash test dummy as she said, "They told me specifically that my husband had been used as a crash test dummy in a simulated Humvee explosion." Jill said she was completely distraught by the news and repeatedly apologized to her husband.
One woman thought she was donating her husband’s body to study the effects of alcoholism, but instead, his body was sold without consent to the military, and used in a ballistic experiment. Stream our new CBS Reports documentary, "Body Brokers," now at cbsnews.com/bodies.♬ original sound - cbsnews
She said, "I was devastated. I would've never done it if I had known. I just kept telling him I was sorry." The devastated wife learned that Stephen Gore, the founder of the now-defunct Phoenix body donation facility, had sold her husband's body. Gore's business sold Steve's body, along with thousands of others, without the family members' permission, and it was used for military and ballistics experiments, which led to "the complete mutilation and desecration of the donor's body."
Did Stephen Gore face any legal action?
In 2014, Gore was placed under arrest and both his home and business were raided. Gore was found guilty by a jury and was ordered to pay $58 million to 10 of 21 families. His business allegedly sold thousands of donated remains that were meant for medical research but ended up being used for military purposes. He was given a one-year prison sentence in 2015, followed by four years of parole, after pleading guilty to running an illegal enterprise.