A New York City man whose mother's body was accidentally donated to a medical school is now pushing for the governor to pass a law that would require schools to get written consent from family members before using a body as a cadaver.
When Aura Ballesteros died in 2014, her son Hector asked the morgue in the Bronx to hold onto her body a little while longer so he could make funeral arrangements. But there was a mix-up and her body was labeled unclaimed -- and, as the law dictates, it was automatically sent to a medical school to be used as a cadaver.
"The anguish, the emotional stress, the trauma is very difficult to explain but I'm still suffering," said Ballesteros.
Currently, if a body goes unclaimed for 48 hours in New York state, it's automatically donated for research.
"This is not OK. They need to look first for human suffering. For respect. For dignity. I don't want no other family to go through this big trauma," said Ballesteros.
The state Senate and Assembly have already passed the bill to require medical schools to get family consent, but there's some opposition.
"The medical schools that oppose this bill and want the governor to veto it, want an easy pass to get these bodies instead of doing what's right And that is getting written consent from the families," said Rubenstein.
The medical school community has previously argued that the new law would compromise their ability to get enough cadavers for students to learn from. It is through cadavers doctors learn how to save lives. But now they are "assessing their position."
"Respect for the dead and their families comes first," said Rubenstein.
"I urge Gov. Cuomo to sign right away without any doubt this bill," said Ballesteros.