There's a black market for almost anything these days: bootleg DVDs, methamphetamines, human organs, and apparently, high-quality artificial limbs. The FBI is currently investigating whether the manager of prosthetic devices at the University of Minnesota Medical Center convinced his patients to replace their prosthetics, and then sold those limbs and parts for thousands of dollars on eBay.
Federal agents have tracked the sale of at least 21 prosthetic body parts to Peter Stasica Jr.'s eBay account. According to court documents, the FBI searched Stasica's home and seized computer equipment, financial records, and an artificial lower leg, an arm and a knee, reports the Star Tribune.
The hospital's owner, Fairview Health Services, does not allow their employees to keep private stocks of prosthetics. Fairview, by policy, stores any discards until doctors can fit them, free of charge, to individuals injured in war zones.
Stasica has not yet been charged, and is suspended with pay during the investigation.
Medical experts strongly advise against the online trading of prosthetic limbs. When individuals buy an artificial body part on eBay or Craigslist they can't be sure of its use history or quality. The patient may also suffer medical complications if the prosthetic is not fitted properly.
But some sellers and buyers defend the practice. According to the Star Tribune, most eBay sellers are relatives of amputees who have passed away. They want their family member's prosthetics to be of value to someone else in need. Many buyers are medical experts, who want to provide more affordable prosthetics to disabled adults and children.
One maker and recycler of prosthetic limbs in Iraq exists in hiding, only because he refused to pay the bribe that the Ministry of Health demanded for official certification, reports NBC News.
Stasica has been a Fairview employee since 1994, and serves as secretary of the Minnesota Society of Orthotists, Prosthetists & Pedorthists, a nonprofit dedicated to elevating ethical standards in the industry, according to the Star Tribune. Colleagues speak highly of Stasica's expertise and moral character.
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