Burying the remains of a dearly departed loved one to his or her final resting place could be among the beginnings of the grieving process for a family. A Texas family was on their own journey to dealing with the loss of their mother after her ashes were buried in the family’s plot in Oklahoma, only to be shocked with FBI’s revelation that her body parts were instead sold for medical research without the family’s knowledge and consent.
Kayla Lyons lost her mother Doris Cox in February 2017 after suffering complications following a fall on a trip to Colorado. Their family then arranged to have her mother’s body cremated at a funeral home outside of Durango, Colo.
Their family was given assurances that their mom’s body will be taken good care of. They were even told: “She’s in great hands. We’ll be gentle with her.”
Imagine the family’s shock when they received a call from an FBI agent last Thursday informing them that their mother’s body parts were sold without their knowledge and consent.
Lyons then learned that her mother was instead cremated at a different facility. Her mother lived in Dallas area but was cremated at Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors, in the town of Montrose, several hours north of Durango.
Said business was owned by Megan Hess. Hess happens to also own a legal business selling body parts for medical research called Donor Services, Inc. located in the same building. Last year, employees exposed to Reuters News that Hess would not always inform the loved ones that their dearly departed’s bodies would be sold for a profit.
The FBI then started an investigation and went on to raid the building on February 6. The state of Colorado then suspended Sunset Mesa’s licenses as a funeral home and crematorium on February 12.
Lyons now faces the uncertainty and discomfort, if not anger, of not knowing where exactly her mother’s body parts went. She shared: “I don’t know if she’s got a leg there, an arm there, a torso, you know. I don’t know what happened to her.”
As it is, body donation remains an unregulated industry. By sharing what happened to their family, Lyons hopes that there would be changes to such practice. She is calling for more oversight and legislation on such a business as body donation that has largely operated in the shadows. She hopes that no other family will suffer with what they are experiencing right now.