DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (July 23, 2009)-Midwestern University (MWU) and the Anatomical Gift Association (AGA) were named on July 21 in a lawsuit filed by a family who donated a body to the AGA of Illinois in January 2003. The AGA sent the body to MWU for use in the education of physicians, an integral part of the training students receive at MWU. The family first advised MWU in August 2008 that the cremated remains had not been returned. Thereafter, MWU conducted a thorough search of its records and investigated the incident. Unfortunately, we could not locate the documentation of when the remains were processed from MWU to the Funeral Director's Crematory and then sent back to the AGA.
MWU understands the concerns of this family, and we have been in constant communication with them and their advisors since this matter was brought to our attention. MWU has expressed and continues to express our sincere sympathy to them. We appreciate their frustration with the situation, and we are working to try to achieve a resolution to this matter. Our door has always been open, and we have been responsive to the family's inquiries.
MWU takes seriously its commitment to careful handling of anatomical donations. The faculty members in the Department of Anatomy have always fostered an atmosphere of respect for the cadavers, with an emphasis on the sacrifice the individuals have made for the advancement of medical education. Our medical students have routinely shown their appreciation for these donor individuals with annual ceremonies acknowledging their sacrifices.
The donation of remains is a critical part of the medical education process and has been a sacred trust for MWU dating back to the early 1900's. The benefits of cadaver donation programs to the health care system and the public are significant, and we will do all we can to protect them. We value and appreciate our partnership with the community and, as has been the case from the beginning, we are sympathetic to the family and their concerns.
We feel further details of the handling of this matter should be addressed privately with respect to all parties. Until the news conference on July 21, we had no indication the family planned to file a lawsuit against MWU and the AGA, and we are still investigating all possible explanations to address the issues raised by the family.
Again, our thoughts are with the family and we hope to bring this matter to closure soon.
If you have additional questions, please contact Karen D. Johnson, Ph.D., Vice President for University Relations, Phone: 630/515-7268, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org