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Illinois State Task Force Meets For First Time, Seeking To Crack Down On Brokering Of Body Parts

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Selling body parts to the highest bidder – it's a gruesome, unregulated practice we first exposed in 2019.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina has reported, families unknowingly thought they were donating their loved ones' bodies for medical research – only to find out they were dissected and sold off.

Now, as a result of our reporting - a new Illinois state task force met for the first time today.

Their goal is to look at how other states regulate the sale of body parts, and come up with a set of rules and regulations for the industry.

In a news release, Illinois state Rep. Dan Brady (R-Normal) reported at the meeting Tuesday, the Non-Transplant Organ Donation Task Force heard emotional testimony from people who had seen loved ones' body parts sold off.

"I appreciate the courage it took for families today to tell us their difficult stories that ranged from dissection procedures they hadn't been made aware would happen, to actual selling of their loved one's organs on the black market," Rep. Brady, a licensed Funeral Home Director and former McLean County Coroner, said in the release. "There's no question that full body donation is invaluable to continued medical advancement, but families' memories and dignity must not be sacrificed in the process."

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill creating the task force last month. The bill was introduced as a result of CBS 2's work, creating a first step to preventing families from going through what hundreds already have.

CBS 2's Molina first started talking to Secretary of State Jesse White about the body brokering business back in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the work a bit, but now a state task force is at work, thanks to the governor's signature.

White first floated the proposed legislation in June 2019, saying then, "The legislation that we are are working on in Springfield... is a result of your investigation and your reporting of the infraction of individuals slinging body parts for financial gain."

That was after CBS 2 exposed, through a series of reports spanning months, the gruesome, unregulated practice of black market body brokering. Two men in Illinois, Donald Greene Sr. and Donald Greene Jr., are still awaiting sentencing on the federal charges related to the selling of diseased parts.

The families thought they'd donated bodies for the greater good, only to find out they were dissected and sold off to the highest bidder.

Over the years, CBS 2 has talked to donor families thought their loved ones donated their bodies for the greater good, medical research, only to find out they were dissected and sold off.

Tracy Smolka said her father's "knees were taken with a value of $350 each. His shoulders with a value of $700."

He was "butchered and sold for profit," Tracy Smolka said.

A full report from the new task force will be presented to the Illinois General Assembly in January of next year to help with the drafting of new legislation.

"I have been working with donors' families since 2019 to fix these problems so they can feel good about the gift of donation," Brady said in the release. "I want to thank the Secretary of State's Office for partnering with us on this Task Force so that we can get the job done."


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