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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Gustaf Kilander

Niece says she feels ‘sick’ after learning Harvard morgue worker accused of selling human remains

Screenshot / Boston 25 News

A niece who handed her aunt’s body to the Harvard Medical School has said that she feels “sick” after federal prosecutors have alleged that morgue staff sold body parts for profit.

Sarah Hill had an easy decision to make after the passing of her aunt Christine Eppich in March 2021 from pancreatic cancer. Ms Eppich had made clear that she wanted her body donated to Harvard for research and education.

“She was my favourite aunt. She worked with special needs children and adults and everyone loved Christine,” Ms Hill told Boston 25 News.

Ms Hill said Ms Eppich had already made arrangements before her passing to have her remains handed over to the Harvard Anatomical programme. The family is now concerned about what could have happened to Ms Eppich’s remains following the allegations that morgue staff was selling body parts.

“It’s been a frantic 24 hours. I received Christine’s remains back this fall after not having them for two years,” Ms Hill told the local TV station. “You know you give your loved one to a program like Harvard and you think that everything will be done properly. And that people would never profit from something like this.”

The former manager at the medical school’s morgue, Cedric Lodge, 55, his wife Denise Lodge, 63, and Kat’s Creepy Creations owner Katrina Maclean, 44, all face allegations that they sold body parts that were supposed to be used for research by the school. The crimes spanned several states, the allegations claim.

“Christine wanted other people to benefit from her passing so that she could be studied. So that the doctors of the future or tomorrow could study her body and find not only a cure for pancreatic cancer but for some other disease,” Ms Hill told Boston 25 News. “And we as family members gave her body to Harvard thinking that she was in the best hands possible.”

Legal filings state that some of the body parts were sold via Facebook and some transactions were processed through PayPal, with shipments being made by US Postal Service mail.

Federal prosecutors argue that Mr Lodge stole organs and other body parts between 2018 and 2022 while serving as the manager of the Anatomical Gifts Program at Harvard Medical School. The remains were set to be used for medical research and education ahead of their planned cremations.

Ms Hill is the next of kin for Ms Eppich. She called the Harvard programme’s 24-hour hotline on Wednesday evening and she was told Ms Eppich was included on the list of those “potentially affected”.

Ms Hill said the person at the other end of the line said that not all bodies donated between 2018 and this year will appear on the list. The medical and dental programmes accepted donations of the bodies of people who had passed away at the ages of 18 and up.

The Department of Justice is trying to identify further victims and contact their families.

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