The Body Broker: W5
Catalogue Number: CTV774
Subject: Canadian Social Issues, Consumer Studies, Criminal Justice & Law, Documentary, Health and Medicine, Medicine, Science, Social Issues, Social Sciences
Grade Level: Post Secondary, Adult
Country Of Origin: Canada
Copyright Year: 2019
Running Time: 20
During a year-long investigation, W5 probed the dark and often illegal side of the “body broker” industry in the U.S. What we discovered is a world where noble donations in the name of science give way to nightmarish facilities and a trade in body parts for profit.
Our focus is Arthur Rathburn, a Detroit body broker who bought cadavers that had been donated to legitimate non transplant tissue banks to be used for science. But that’s not what happened. Rathburn would buy donated cadavers, dissect them and sell or lease the body parts to private companies. The bodies were used for everything from displays at medical seminars and workshops to crash and ballistics testing.
But W5’s investigation doesn’t stop at the American border. In an interview, Arthur Rathburn’s former delivery driver tells Sandie Rinaldo exactly where in Canada he and Rathburn delivered American-sourced cadavers.
Rathburn smuggled specimens across the Detroit-Windsor border by using falsified documents and, in some cases, by concealing the parts from Canadian customs agents.
Rathburn was convicted and is now serving a prison sentence that is under appeal. But a whistleblower who had been involved in the Rathburn investigation reveals to W5 that while that body broker may be in prison, others are believed to have taken up the shadowy business and continue the illicit cross-border smuggling of questionable specimens into Canada.