Thursday, June 04, 2009

Assets to assets, dust to dust (Innovative Spinal Technologies bites the dust, leaves the assets.)

Well, yesterday evening's quirky little news story was about a local med-tech company that went bankrupt.

Bankrupt? Oh, yawn....

But wait, there's more.

When Innovative Spinal Technologies abandoned their Mansfield, Massachusetts office space earlier this year, they left behind nine partial cadavers.

Usually when a company bites the dust, employees like to do a bit of "make good" pillaging. They might not be able to get away with a major asset - like their laptop, unless it was fortuitously "stolen" the day before the company shuts its doors - but, hey, who's counting pens, pads, staples, and Post-it notes. Grab away!

(I know first hand that things can and do disappear when companies go bad. The day I was laid off from Genuity, I left my laptop and Palm Pilot on a table in my office, and went wandering around to see whether I could figure out where to turn them in. I was a voluntary separation, so no one actually came in to lay me off, run through my checklist, and escort me out the door. I pretty much had to lay myself off. When I got back to my office, someone had snagged the Palm. I called Security, and I'm sure they were thinking, 'yeah, right, lady.')

So even though people do help themselves, it's not surprising that no one wanted to shove a partial cadaver in their cardboard carton. ("Hey, honey, I might not be getting any severance, but I did get this swell cadaver. Now we can home-school the kids in biology.")

The cadavers have been languishing since February, when the facility closed down. (Bankruptcy followed several months later.) Apparently, the company was trying to work out the disposal of the bodies when they ran out of money. So they left them in a freezer which, fortunately, stayed on. One can only imagine if National Grid had shut off the electricity for lack of payment, or there'd been a blackout.

Can you picture the real estate agent taking a prospective renter on a tour?

"The facility comes equipped with this walk in freezer...."

At least IST didn't do something completely heinous, like bag the bodies up in heavy duty trash bags and throw them in the office park dumpster. Or put them in recycle - a cadaver does, after all, pretty much represent the ultimate in recycle, doesn't it? No weird little plastic pellets that won't biodegrade in a billion years. No yecchy stuff to join up with the flotsam island the size of Rhode Island - or is it Texas - that's floating around the Pacific.

Nope, I would think that a cadaver - unless it's pumped up with embalming fluid - would be as natural to dispose of as apple cores and potato peels. Right on to the compost heap.

Of course, there are the families of those who donated their bodies to science, and in this case, business, to consider. I'm sure that they wouldn't want to learn that the remains of their loved ones, which were going to nobly help the cause of those with major spinal problems, have been - quite literally - cooling their heels, abandoned in a freezer.

Not that IST was trying to hide anyting:

The company listed the cadavers among items that could pose a threat to public health in its bankruptcy filings.

Cadavers in the bankruptcy filing. Bet that was a first. (The town health inspector says that the cadavers do not, in fact, represent a health threat.)

A bankruptcy trustee,

...Warren Agin, said the cadavers will remain frozen and properly stored until they are disposed of in accordance with state and federal regulations.

And it wasn't as if IST had been ghoulishly grave robbing in the middle of the night. They apparently kept meticulous records and used bodies (used used bodies?) from licensed providers. (Now, there's an interesting business, no? I'm particularly interested in exploring the question of whether you can think you're donating your body to a medical school, when it ends up being sold by a commercial venture. Hmmmmm.)

Yes, it's all a bit creepy, but we have to keep in mind that, for the departed, this really doesn't matter.

Ashes will eventually turn to ashes, dust will eventually turn to dust, even if, for now, they're caught up in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Is this a 2009 way to go, or what?

Source: WBZ TV.


Happy Birthday to my baby sister, Trish, who hits the Big 5-0 today. I still remember dad coming in to wake Kath and me up in and telling us we had a new sister. After two boys in a row, we were especially thrilled. So, Happy Birthday, Po, and thanks for fifty wonderful years of sisterhood.

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