Director of University of California-Los Angeles Willed Body Program Lied About Background, Los Angeles Times Reports
Henry Reid, the director of the willed body program at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine who allegedly illegally sold hundreds of cadavers donated to the program, lied in a 2002 deposition about his professional and academic background, according to the Los Angeles Times (Hong/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/11). According to invoices printed on UCLA letterhead, Reid charged Earnest Nelson $704,600 between 1998 and 2003 for the sale of 496 cadavers donated to the program for medical research. Nelson allegedly sold the body parts to a number of large medical research companies. According to Louis Marlin, an attorney for UCLA, university officials first became aware of a potential problem with the willed body program when the Department of Health Services told them that Nelson had sold body parts under the false pretense that the university had only tested the cadavers for infectious diseases. After Dr. J. Thomas Rosenthal, associate vice chancellor of the medical school, confronted Reid on the issue, Reid said that he had sold a small number of body parts to Nelson and that he had arranged for their return, which prompted UCLA to end the investigation. Marlin said that UCLA began a new investigation when an attorney for Nelson filed a claim against the university for $241,000, the value of the body parts he had in his warehouse, after the university asked him to return any parts in his possession. Reid on Feb. 26 admitted to Marlin that he had received payment from Nelson for the body parts, at which time Marlin said he contacted the police and placed Reid on administrative leave. Over the weekend, police arrested Reid for grand theft and Nelson for receipt of stolen property. UCLA on Tuesday announced plans to suspend the willed body program at least until the completion of the investigation (California Healthline, 3/9).
Reid, in a November 2002 deposition for a lawsuit filed of behalf of the families of individuals who donated their cadavers to the program, said under oath that he had graduated with a bachelor's degree in music and philosophy from St. John's Seminary and with a master's degree in music from California State University-Fullerton, the Times reports. However, officials from St. John's and CSU-Fullerton on Wednesday said that records indicate Reid did not graduate from either school. According to the Times, Reid also provided "a questionable description of his state certification as an embalmer in the deposition," in which he said, "I still hold the highest score" on the state embalmers license examination. A spokesperson for the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the exam, said that individuals who take the test are not ranked and do not receive their scores. Marlin said that he was unaware of the discrepancies in the testimony that Reid provided until the Times reported the information on Wednesday, after which time he requested the resume Reid submitted to UCLA and found that "it did not match the deposition testimony," the Times reports. According to the Times, the discrepancies "further called into questions UCLA's oversight" of the willed body program. Raymond Boucher, an attorney who represents the families of cadaver donors in several lawsuits, said, "There is absolutely no excuse why UCLA was not aware of this before today," adding, "This is more evidence that this program is and has been out of control for a decade and all the more reason why it has to be shut down permanently." UCLA officials on Wednesday said that Reid had "duped" them, the Times reports.
Kevin O'Boyle, chief financial officer of NuVasive, a company that manufacturers spinal devices, on Wednesday said that UCLA had asked for information "some time ago" about "possibly forged documents that had accompanied UCLA cadavers obtained through a broker," Nelson, the Times reports. O'Boyle said, "We provided any and all documentation that the university requested." At that time, O'Boyle said that NuVasive ended the relationship with Nelson. According to the Times, Marlin "acknowledged the campus last year investigated the existence of forged documents claiming that UCLA cadavers resold by Nelson had been tested for various diseases" but said that UCLA ended the investigation "after officials asked Nelson to return the Cadavers and Nelson complied" (Los Angeles Times, 3/11).
The Times on Thursday examined concerns from professors and administrators at other medical schools that the "fallout" from the UCLA case "might spread, potentially affecting their own ability to educate and attract donations." According to the Times, some medical school officials said that "eliminating or restricting" willed body programs would "pose serious challenges to medical training." They added that they hoped that "no matter how serious" the problems at UCLA, the case would "not accelerate a move in some medical schools away from the use of cadavers for education and research," the Times reports (Trounson/Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 3/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.