CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says black market body part brokering will not happen again, under proposed legislation he expects lawmakers to approve, after a father and son duo was charged in a federal case in April.
Families whose loved ones wanted to donate their bodies to science for medical research to help others instead learned their family members’ body parts were sold to the highest bidder.
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“He thought he was doing something genuinely good,” says Tracy Smolka. “And to go and find out that, no, that’s not really what happened? He would be disgusted.”
“I’m fairly stoic about these things, but it’s painful,” says John Butsch.
They trusted staff at the now shuttered Biological Resource Center of Illinois. The center’s owner and operator father and son duo is now facing federal charges for brokering diseased body parts.
“We don’t want body parts to be sold,” says White. “You should get punished for that.”
White says the heartbreak shared by families statewide will not be in vain.
“We’ll put some legislation in place to make sure that, when you donate your loved ones’ body parts, that they are going to be used for the right purpose,” he said. “The legislation that we are working on in Springfield, under the leadership of Representative Brady, is a result of your investigation and your reporting of the infractions of individuals slinging body parts for financial gain.”
White says they’re working on the details now. Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said they’re in the process of meeting with stakeholders.
“How we can look at it to not only how to prevent it from occurring in Illinois, but explore what other states have done in the way of regulation, and safeguard the entire process,” he said.
They aim to introduce the bill by the next full legislative session.
“I am going to make sure we shepherd that piece of legislation from its beginning to its conclusion,” White said.
In the early stages the bill will focus on regulation and transparency. According to White, it could be introduced as early as the veto session in November, or at the very latest, the next legislative session in January.