Skip to comments.Hospital sold bodies of starved patients
Posted on 02/12/2005 4:40:25 PM PST by MadIvan
DURING 15 years of confinement in psychiatric institutions in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, Dimitri Gerasimenko was starved and repeatedly beaten. The indignities did not end with his death five years ago at the age of 30.
Staff at the ramshackle asylum 50 miles from Bishkek, the capital, have never told his mother Raisa, 65, how he died. All her attempts to retrieve his remains have been met with prevarication, compounding her grief.
First I was asked for money if I wanted the body back, she said. Then I was told Dimitri had been sent to a medical academy. When I went there I was shown a forged document that claimed I and my husband, who had already passed away, did not want our sons remains. I was promised his bones, at least, but to this day I am still waiting. The truth is that they stole his corpse.
Police believe that Gerasimenkos body was among more than 100 sold illegally by Kyrgyz psychiatric hospitals and prison colonies to the Bishkek medical academy.
The academy, in turn, helped to supply Gunther von Hagens, the German anatomist, whose controversial Body Worlds exhibition of skinned corpses has earned gross revenues of more than £45m across the world.
After a two-year investigation Valery Gabitov, the former head of anatomy at Bishkeks medical academy who has admitted supplying von Hagens with more than 500 corpses has gone on trial with five other doctors.
The men are accused of handling scores of bodies including that of Gerasimenko without their relatives consent. Some of the victims appear to have met a violent death.
Investigators allege that many bodies were transported to von Hagenss laboratory in Heidelberg, while others remained in Kyrgyzstan.
Its very difficult to determine their identity but we believe that some were used for research here and others were sent to Germany, said one. Before a body can be used for medical research an autopsy must first be carried out . . . and then permission must be obtained from relatives.
Gabitov has denied all the charges. Von Hagens, who is not accused of wrongdoing, admits receiving hundreds of corpses from the central Asian republic but says none has been used as an exhibit.
He insists that he displays only people who have given their permission before death.
Von Hagenss links to Kyrgyzstan, a mostly Muslim state of 5m people with a large American military base, began after he met Gabitov at a conference in 1996. The following year he set up a laboratory at the academy, which also houses Bishkeks morgue.
There is no suggestion that von Hagens paid for the corpses Gabitov sent him. He did, however, donate £250,000 to the academy to fund staff, equipment and research.
When investigators searched the premises two years ago they found 120 large containers and 12 freezers filled with body parts, which they believe were mostly destined for Germany.
The health ministry claims the Chim Korgon hospital where Gerasimenko died sent more than 150 bodies to Gabitov between 1997 and 2002 some of which, like his, were used for research without permission. A ministry report said many of the patients deaths were not registered and some were wrongly listed as having been discharged.
In those years people died like flies there, said a doctor who worked at the hospital. Some bodies were buried in mass graves, others were sent to the lab in Bishkek. We dont know what happened to them after that.
Questioned by The Sunday Times at the hospital last week, staff reacted nervously. Conditions are said to have improved since Gerasimenkos day, when some patients were kept tied to their beds without a mattress or sheets. Chronically underfunded, Chim Korgon nevertheless remains a place of misery and suffering.
More than 450 mentally ill patients are incarcerated, struggling to survive on less than 30p a day for food and medicines, in dilapidated barrack-like buildings dating from the Soviet era.
They are fed little more than boiled rice and rancid buckwheat porridge. They never eat fresh vegetables or fruit and are lucky to receive some meat once a month. Many show signs of prolonged malnutrition and emaciation.
There is no hot water in the buildings, despite sub-zero temperatures outside. People spend their days wasting away on metal cots in overcrowded wards where the air is thick with germs. In one wing there are no lavatories, obliging patients to use plastic bottles and a large saucepan instead.
The windows in the toilets of another ward are broken but the staff, who earn an average of £15 a month, cannot afford to replace them. The sick are allowed to wash only once every 10 days on stone tables in a semi-derelict steam bathhouse.
Many of the patients suffer mild conditions that could easily be treated at home, but are condemned to die in a state institution because their relatives have abandoned them. Some have been there for nearly 10 years.
My son was not well when he was interned but as the years passed the conditions he was held in made him much worse, said Raisa Gerasimenko. Living there is enough to make anyone go mad. He told me staff would punish him by plunging him into tubs of icy water and I once saw a guard beat one of the patients.
The last time I visited him he begged me to take him away. It was horrible but I never imagined that someone would go so far as to steal his body.
"Police believe that Gerasimenkos body was among more than 100 sold illegally by Kyrgyz psychiatric hospitals and prison colonies to the Bishkek medical academy. The academy, in turn, helped to supply Gunther von Hagens, the German anatomist, whose controversial Body Worlds exhibition of skinned corpses has earned gross revenues of more than £45m across the world."
Wonder which of these is Gerasimenkos body...
Body Worlds photo gallery:
Its what the Clintons had in mind, more or less.
I wish I lived in Chicago. I am not good at arranging things but I would be willing to stand on the sidewalk and protest the Museum of Science and Industry's exhibition. It should not be allowed in the US.
Only a lawyer would say such nonsense.
Imagine that. The keepers of the gulag not only imprisoned and killed their victims, they even (gasp) sold the bodies for profit.
Thank God for Reagan, our allies (Thather, Kohl and, yes, even Mitterand) and members of our armed forces who stood up to these bastards.
BTW, I'm not among those who want to summarily dispose of the Russians as possible allies (see my profile page). I would love to have the Russians as allies against the muslim threat. But Reagan's advise to "Trust but Verify" still rings true.
Thather = Thatcher
advise = advice
Life is cheap in this world. Consider american abortion..
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