Skin and Bone

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The business of recycling dead humans into medical implants is a little-known yet lucrative trade. But its practices have roused concerns about how tissues are obtained and how well grieving families and transplant patients are informed about the realities and the risks.

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Contributors to this story: a & o buero, Mar Cabra, Dan Evans, Martina Keller, Vlad Lavrov, Wolfgang Luck, Thomas Maier, NPR and Kate Willson

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Inside Skin and Bone
Methodology: Behind the Numbers
July 16, 2012 — ICIJ used four databases provided by the Food and Drug Administration in its analysis of the tissue banking industry. Those databases include the Human Cell and Tissue Establishment Registration, the Operational and Administrative System for Import Support (OASIS), and data sets on tissue bank inspections and deviations. We also analyzed membership of the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB).
Inside Skin and Bone
Graphic: How Safe is Human Tissue?
Source: Medical literature and FDA data.
Inside Skin and Bone
Graphic: Products made from human tissue
Source: Corporate literature