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RFID Used to Tag Cadavers at Scandal-Plagued University of California

The University of California is considering using RFID to tag donated cadavers to cut down on the theft and resale of body parts on the black market.
Feb 05, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

February 5, 2005—The University of California is considering using RFID to tag donated cadavers in an effort to cut down on the theft of body parts that are then sold on the black market. A number of scandals in the 90's involving various UC schools had caused a crisis of trust in the university's body donation program. In one case, human bodies were illegally disposed of by cremation, and in 1999 UC Irvine's director was caught selling spines to a hospital in Arizona. Upon investigation, it turned out hundreds of cadavers had vanished. Body donations dipped thereafter, and the university adopted a number of reforms to assuage the public's concerns and rebuild confidence in the program.

Now RFID is being considered as a means to label bodies and possibly body parts that are separated out individually. But some argue that mere RFID tagging may not be sufficient. Tagging is only the first step; actively monitoring the inventory is the necessary second step. "Having the [RFID tags] is great, but if you want to beat them you need to have someone come in occasionally and say, 'I'm doing an audit,'" noted University of Pennsylvania professor of bioethics Dr. Arthur Caplan.

Wired News reports
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