The family of a woman whose corpse mistakenly wound up at a medical school for research has received $115,000 from New York City.
Aura Ballesteros, 85, died in her sleep May 2014 at a nursing home after years of heart disease and dementia, the Daily News reports. Her body was taken to a morgue in the Bronx, and the city medical examiner's office told her son that they would hold the remains until June 16 so he could make funeral arrangements.
But on June 3 the son, Hector Ballesteros, got a notification that his mother’s corpse had been shipped to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, the News reports.
He called the school and was told he had to wait two days to get his mother's body back.
“I am thinking she is lying in a classroom with teacher and students maybe are dissecting her,” he said.
Ballesteros wasn’t part of a dissection, but she had been embalmed, the medical examiner’s office told the News. The office’s chief of staff, Barbara Butcher, said that a staffer at an office in Manhattan called the morgue in the Bronx to tell them about the arrangements, but the person on the other end of the line didn’t make a note of it.
Under state law, the medical examiner can send a corpse to Potter's Field for burial or to a medical school for research if a corpse isn't claimed for 14 days.
The medical examiner's office says a new state law is pending that would require family consent before releasing a body to a medical or embalming school.