Buffalo woman angry with UB donated body policy

Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-09 18:59:46-05

A Buffalo woman wants the University at Buffalo to change its policy concerning family viewing of bodies that have been donated for medical training and research as part of the Anatomical Gift Program.

Heather Petri, a UB nursing school graduate, said she was denied a chance to pay "final respects" after her grandfather, Richard Petri, 89, died Wednesday night and his body was taken to UB.  

When Heather Petri learned about her grandfather's death the next day, she called UB, explaining that she was a nursing program graduate, and asked if she could see her grandfather's body briefly.  Petri thought because she had seen deceased bodies as part of her UB medical training, that the request would be approved.

"I just wanted to hold his hand for one last time," Heather Petri told reporter Ed Reilly.

The request was denied and Petri was told that it is school policy that prevents families from viewing a loved-ones body after it is donated to the medical school for science.

"I think that is completely uncompassionate.  What if I am out-of-town, or if someone is not able to get there to see them immediately.  I don't think it is fair and they are not considering the families feelings in this."

Petri, who supports the body donation program for medical training, believes there should be a window of opportunity to see a relative's body soon after it has been taken.

The University at Buffalo provided the following statement in response:

“Anatomical donation is an important component to medical education and research. The University at Buffalo very much appreciates the generosity of the many people and families who have given to this program. The university always treats such gifts with the utmost care, sensitivity and respect.”

“The university took care to closely follow the wishes of the deceased and immediate next of kin, and we adhered to procedures and protocols that always guide these donations. We wish we could have facilitated the request, however, in this situation the timing of the request precluded our ability to do so. We express our sincere condolences and gratitude to the donor and his family.”

Ray Dannenhoffer, director of UB’s anatomical gift program

You can hear more in Ed Reilly's report.