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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 02:55 GMT
Two held in UCLA cadaver scandal
Surgeons
The body parts were for use in medical training and research
Two men have been arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly stealing and selling corpses donated for research at a top US medical school.

Ernest Nelson, 46, is quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying he took bodies from the university, UCLA, with the full knowledge of staff there.

Henry Reid, 54, head of UCLA's willed-body programme, was also arrested.

UCLA apologised for the unauthorised sale of body parts, but denied top bosses knew about the arrangement.

Mr Nelson has been quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying that he went to UCLA's body freezer at the medical school twice a week for six years - cutting up around 800 bodies.

He collected knees, hands, torsos and other body parts needed for his corporate clients, the paper quoted him as saying.

Protocol

He claimed he had followed a protocol that was set out by Mr Reid, and was known to other UCLA officials.

"I call one of the most prestigious universities in the world, their director gives me the protocol, I follow that protocol and they charge me with receiving stolen body parts?" he was quoted as saying in the Times.

Any illegal commercialisation would violate the trust of donors, families and UCLA. We are deeply sorry
Gerald Levey
Dean of UCLA's medical school
"If I wasn't supposed to be there, why couldn't they tell me that? It was not done in secret," he reportedly said.

He was arrested by police on Sunday on suspicion of receiving stolen body parts and selling them on to research corporations.

Mr Reid was detained a day earlier for allegedly selling the corpses and body parts for profit. He was released from jail after posting $20,000 bail.

At a press conference, UCLA officials said they were trying to track down all the body parts sold to Mr Nelson, and to make sure they were used for medical research at the private facilities.

"The ongoing investigation will focus on verifying that," said Gerald Levey, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Nonetheless, any illegal commercialisation would have violated the trust of the donors, the families and UCLA. We are deeply sorry."

They denied Mr Nelson's claims that the university's top officials were familiar with his arrangement, and also disputed the number of bodies he says he cut up.


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