PHOENIX -- Agencies investigating a Phoenix body donation center and tissue bank have set up a special hotline for the families of donors.
The Biological Resource Center on 24th Street remained taped off on Wednesday, as agents from the FBI and Attorney General’s Office spent the second straight day pulling evidence from the business. Gurneys with what appeared to be body bags were removed from the center, as well as boxes of paperwork and files.
While investigators will not confirm or comment on the focus of their probe, sources tell 3TV the investigation is linked to one in Detroit, Michigan which centers on the alleged trafficking and illegal sale of body parts.
“You immediately start thinking is this going onto the black market for body parts,” said Jackie Mahaney whose mother, Royal, signed up to donate her body to BRC before she passed in April of 2013.
“She was a big advocate of helping science, research and medical technology,” said Mahaney. “I did receive a letter from the company in the mail with a detailed description of everything they used her body for, all the different research facilities.”
“They listed about five research centers that her body parts went to,” said Mahaney.
Mahaney described her experience with BRC as professional and positive. The company, which is for-profit, describes itself as an Arizona based whole body donation program and qualified tissue bank. The company’s website includes a provisional license for tissue bank operation from the New York State Department of Health.
However, in light of the recent investigation, Mahaney and others with current or past contracts are left wondering. Investigators say it could be days or longer before more details are released, which is no comfort to the families of donors.
“It does raise a lot of questions, like was the letter legitimate,” Mahaney told 3TV. “Is it my mom’s cremation that I really have on my mantle? Until I have full details, I have questions about what’s going on there.”
3TV has tried multiple times to reach out to the Biological Resource Center and founder/president Stephen Gore but has not heard back.
The Arizona Attorney General's office is asking anyone with concerns or past dealings with the BRC to call 602-542-8888. A spokeswoman said they’re increasing staffing to man the hotline since they’ve been inundated with calls.
Families can expect a returned call in one to two business days, according to the AG’s Office.