Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.

County morgue’s plan to donate bodies to science isn’t a good idea

Monday, October 03, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
by Mark Brown

For a whole bunch of reasons, relatively few people choose to donate their bodies to science after death, which is a shame considering the good that can come of it. But whether out of personal preference, religious belief or lack of knowledge about the option, it’s still not a popular choice to give one’s entire body to a medical school where, let’s be frank, it’s likely to be dissected. The Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois, a non-profit group authorized to procure and distribute human remains for study and research by medical institutions in this state, received only 483 usable cadavers in 2010 — despite its efforts to encourage voluntary donations. “I could have easily placed 600,” said the association’s executive vice president, Paul Dudek, referring to the unmet demand for human remains by researchers and educators. It’s against this backdrop that we learned Monday the Cook County medical examiner’s office has agreed to give to Dudek’s group the unclaimed bodies that until now have been buried at public expense in mass graves. These are the people who live their lives as the poorest of the poor, the most anonymous of the nobodies among us. Some are homeless. Some are just all alone. When they die, nobody steps forward to claim their bodies. Some of their families say they cannot afford to bury them. Some of their families cannot be found. But now, if the bodies aren’t claimed from the medical examiner’s office in two weeks, the remains will turned over to Dudek’s group. I can understand why somebody might have thought this would be a good idea. But it’s not. Donating one’s body to science — or for organ donation, which is a separate matter — has rightfully been treated as a voluntary matter in this country. And that shouldn’t change just because someone dies poor and alone. I can understand why Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy L. Jones doesn’t see it that way. As a person of science, she sees it as an opportunity “that will save thousands of lives in the future.” “In a perfect world, they all would be taken care of by their families,” Jones said of the bodies left in her care. “It’s not a perfect world.” If burial had ceased to be the norm in our society, then I might be able to support that view. But until the case for scientific donation has been sold to the populace as a whole, I don’t see why the indigent should be served up in their place. One argument would be to save money. Even the crummy public burials we have given the poor in the past cost money. But Jones said this is not an effort to save money. To my surprise, there is a state law that requires counties to donate to science any bodies that would be buried at public expense. The law had been on the books since 1885 but wasn’t being followed until Dudek’s group discovered it and approached the medical examiner three years ago to reach an agreement. It’s taken until now to work out the details. The county could have just as easily said no and had the law repealed. Jones emphasized that if families object to the bodies being donated to science, then they won’t be donated. But neither she nor Dudek could cite for me a process by which family members would be informed of that right. Jones said she could not estimate how many bodies could be involved. But Dudek said Jones originally told him the county typically buries 400 indigents a year, of which he expects about 25 percent would be usable for cadaver research. That would yield 80 to 100 cadavers a year and go a long way toward clearing up his supply shortage. It would seem to me to be a much better idea for all those big universities and teaching hospitals in line for those bodies to instead make a case to the public for why they should voluntarily donate their own. CORRECTION: Last week’s column on Chicago being named America’s most mustache-friendly city incorrectly identified MOvember, a charity organization that challenges men to grow mustaches during November to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues. “Mo” is Australian slang for mustache.

Recent Headlines

Cook County Land Bank Authority Announces Opening of Registration to Give Away a Free Home
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
The Chicago Crusader

Friday, August 09, 2019
Illinois Policy

Top Cook County Jail chess players take on the world
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Public defender takes shots at Chicago Police gun offender webpage
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Commentary: Data alone won’t stop Chicago gun violence; Cook County needs a public ‘Violence Reduction Dashboard’
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail detainees take on inmates around the world in online chess tournament
Tuesday, August 06, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Ongoing Bail Debate In Chicago
Monday, August 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Jail hosts international chess tournament
Monday, August 05, 2019
WGN Chicago

Cook County property taxes are due today, Aug. 1.
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Special to

Forest Preserves of Cook County Celebrate Dan Ryan Woods Investments
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Defender

Cook County TIFs generate $1.2 billion
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Changes coming to Cook County assessor’s office
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

In Chicago, TIF Revenues Soaring
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A controversial tax subsidy program will generate a record $1.2 billion in revenue. Here’s what the number means for Chicago.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Group to rally in support of Kim Foxx as challengers emerge
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Report: Incarceration Rates Drop Nearly 20% Under Kim Foxx
Monday, July 29, 2019
WTTW Chicago

Lightfoot blames bond court reform for gun violence
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Chicago Reporter

Cook County Health Hires Audit Firm To Review Scathing Inspector General Report
Thursday, July 25, 2019

Former County Commissioner Shocked Animal Abuser Registry He Worked To Create Was Never Used
Thursday, July 25, 2019
CBS Chicago

No one on County Board sharing Arroyo’s view of inspector general
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.