Senator Jim Alesi (R,C - Perinton) today announced the introduction of new legislation that would increase the penalties related to unlawful activities such as body stealing, the unlawful dissection of a human being, the unlawful opening of grave, and the sale and purchases of human organs.
In response to major medical breakthroughs in healing burn victims, fixing athletic knee injuries and easing back pain, the tissue bank industry has boomed in recent years. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the number of musculosketal tissue transplants done in the United States has more than doubled over the past dozen years - from 350,000 in 1990 to 800,000 in 2002.
While the proper harvesting of tissue makes medical miracles possible to achieve, there is a certain risk of disease transmission associated with tissue transplantation. The risk is believed to be low, but when the transmission of a disease has occurred the results have been tragic.
The New York State Health Department and the FDA require firms that collect tissue to screen and test donors for relevant communicable disease agents and diseases and to ensure that Human Tissue and Cellular and Tissue Based Products are processed in a way that prevents communicable disease contamination and cross-contamination. State and federal regulations require an extensive donor medical history, testing of the donor’s blood and tissue for infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, and sterilizing of the tissue so its free of viruses and bacteria.
Currently, under the existing law the unlawful dissection of the body of a human being as well as the sales and purchases of human organs are misdemeanors. The unlawful removal of a dead body of a human being and the unlawful opening of a grave are class E felonies, punishable by 6 month to a year of prison time.
The new legislation introduced by Senator Alesi would amend the current laws making the unlawful dissection of the body of a human being as well as the sales and purchases of human organs as class E felonies. The unlawful removal of a dead body of a human being and the unlawful opening of a grave would be classified as class D felonies.
"When human bone, skin and other material are obtained illegally, the medical screening process is circumvented. This creates very real medical risks that will have tragic results," said Senator Alesi. "This legislation increases the penalties for activities related to the unlawful and improper harvesting of human tissue, bone and other materials in an effort to deter these types of unlawful activities."