A Maine woman is suing a prestigious research institute that employed a national network of "brain harvesters" for removing her late husband's brain without her permission.
Anne Mozingo says she gave the Stanley Medical Research Institute permission to take tissue samples of her husband's brain after he died from an aneurism in 2000. But the Bethesda, Md.-based facility, which studies schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, took the whole organ, along with his liver, spleen and pituitary gland.
Mozingo suffered extreme emotional and mental distress and had nightmares in which her husband's body was being mutilated after learning the brain had been taken, she said in court documents.
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The lawsuit, against Stanley and its Maine representative, accused the defendants of acting "beyond all possible bounds of decency."
The institute and Cyr, of Bucksport, deny any wrongdoing, according to The Associated Press. The institute has repeatedly said over the years that it never knowingly obtained brains without full consent from next of kin.
From the mid-1990s to 2003, Stanley Medical Research Institute used a network of "brain harvesters" in Maine and three other states to collect hundreds of brains for use in the study of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to the AP. The brains were packed in dry ice and shipped by FedEx to the institute.
Matthew Cyr, who also worked for the Maine Medical Examiner's Office, was paid more than $150,000 to collect brains and other organs from at least 99 bodies from 1999 to 2003, according to court documents.