MARY Anderson doesn’t know where her son is.
She knows that his skin and bones were buried at Northwood Cemetery.
But Vance Anderson’s brain, eyes and other internal organs never made it to his West Oak Lane grave site.
The 51-year-old painter, who died in 2012 at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital of complications from a lung condition, was allegedly a hollowed-out shell by the time he was lowered into the ground – stripped for parts like a junkyard Chevy.
Vance Anderson’s insides were, in the words of a Jefferson doctor, “donated for education.”
But Mary Anderson says she never signed off on that. She wanted an autopsy done to confirm the cause of death, not to turn his body into a science experiment.
“They told me they took his eyes, heart, brain, pancreas. They took every organ he had in his body out of him. I said, ‘Why? Why?’ ” Anderson said. “I thought they were going to take a piece of his lung to see what he died from.”
Anderson, a West Philadelphia pastor, has filed a lawsuit against the hospital, claiming that doctors raided her son’s corpse “without authority and without consent,” used the organs for medical research, then disposed of them “like garbage.”
“They just threw my son away,” Anderson said. “I don’t think people know what they’re doing to their loved ones. Ain’t no way in the world, if they explained to me they’re going to take my son and experiment with him and throw his organs in the trash, that I would’ve consented to that.”
Hospital spokeswoman Jackie Kozloski declined to comment on the Anderson case, but said in a statement: “When performing complete autopsies, it is customary for academic medical centers, that are engaged in educating future doctors, to remove and retain organs and tissues for teaching and continued analysis.”
Many of our clients bring us heart breaking stories. None more so than what happened to Mrs. Anderson. When her son died during a routine procedure the doctors did not ask before they performed a full autopsy, taking his organs. This was particularly disturbing for the Anderson family because they are devout Christians who believe that the vital organs are sacred gifts from God.
We held a mock trial in our office yesterday and today the case goes to court for jury selection. Above is an article from Philly.com about the case when it first came out.