There’s not much for any parent that could be worse than the death of a child, but a lawsuit filed in Texas might come close.
A California doctor is being accused of removing body parts from the corpses of children for use in “personal research” projects unrelated to the children’s death.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the lawsuit was filed by Tita Senee Graves, a medical technician who claims she was fired by the Lubbock County, Texas, Medical Examiner’s Office after questioning what was happening to the children’s bodies.
She’s seeking her job back and more than $1 million in damages, according to Lubbock Online, the website of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Dr. Evan Matshes and his company, NAAG Pathology Labs, deny any wrongdoing.
Matshes and the company chief medical examiner, Dr. Sam Andrews, argue the lawsuit is the result of a political agenda by a new county commissioner.
San Diego pathologist, Dr Evan Matshes, accused of improperly harvesting children’s organs, tissue in Texas lawsuit; not for medical reasons, but to boost his research prospects. 😱 #CorpseAbuse #HumanRightsViolations https://t.co/wIu9JVOHfV
— Tamara Davis 🇺🇸 (@warriors_mom) March 3, 2019
The lawsuit accuses Matshes, a San Diego physician, of removing “brain, eyes, spinal cord, posterior neck, including vertebra, and the heart and lungs” from deceased children during autopsies, the Union-Tribune reported.
“Ms. Graves and the other staff were disturbed by the autopsies of the infants,” the suit states, according to the Union-Tribune. “The unnecessary harvesting of body parts for a pathologist’s personal research interests seemed wrong.”
Those removals had nothing to do with determining the cause of death, the lawsuit states.
At a news conference at her attorney’s office after filing the lawsuit on Feb. 20, Graves said there seemed to be no medical reason for the removals.
“It didn’t matter what the cause of death was, they took the brains the spinal cords, the spinal column from the neck sometimes parts of ribs, sometimes parts of legs, the heart, the lungs, the eyeballs,” she said. “All shipped to San Diego.”
Matshes’ company, the San Diego-based NAAG Pathology, works under contract with Lubbock County to provide autopsy services and performs similar services around the country, the Union-Tribune reported.
According to the newspaper, NAAG Pathology doesn’t do organ research, but another Matshes company, the National Autopsy Assay Group, also based in San Diego, does perform tissue and organ analysis.
NAAG Pathology started autopsy work for Lubbock County on an interim basis in August, then began work under a new contract in October, according to the Union-Tribune.
According to the lawsuit, protocol in the Medical Examiner’s Office changes quickly.
“Dr. Matshes stated that he wanted to collect more tissues from those autopsies than had been done in the past because he needed the tissue for his ‘research’,” the suit states, according to the Union-Tribune.
“… The new protocol required the removal of the children’s brain, eyes, spinal cord, posterior neck, including vertebra, and the heart and lungs.”
The suit also states that Matshes removed some of the body parts himself, though he has no license to practice medicine in Texas.
The company argues that a medical license is not required for such procedures, and that there is nothing wrong with removing body parts in cases where deaths are under criminal investigation, according to the Union-Tribune.
“Dr. Matshes did not practice medicine during the procedure mentioned in the lawsuit,” the company stated.
This isn’t the first time Matshes has been in a high-profile legal situation.
According to the newspaper, he received his medical degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.
He spent a year at the Calgary medical examiners office, where problems arose about his performance, according to a 2012 report in the Toronto Globe & Mail.
He is currently involved in a lawsuit with the Alberta, Canada, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, which found his work did not meet professional standards in 2012, according to the Union-Tribune.
Matshes is suing for $30 million in damages to his reputation in that case.
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