ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A St. Louis man says his shock over the death of his ex-wife is compounded by the fact that her last wish won’t be granted.
After a long illness, Christine died last Friday after Walter Winston called 911 and tried performing CPR.
In her will, Winston says she spelled out that she wanted her body to be used for research or organ donation.
Then he got a call from the crematorium, and was told it couldn’t accept Christine’s body for science because, at 240 pounds, she was too big.
“I’m living with the fact that I did everything I could for her, and I couldn’t save her life,” Winston says.
Nor could he ensure her desire that her body be donated to science.
“It happened on my watch, and that’s something that I have to live with for the rest of my life,” he says.
There are several reasons why weight restrictions are placed on donated bodies. St. Louis University School of Medicine says it has weight restrictions for the safety of the students and staff tasked with lifting the bodies.
Dan Loesche, with the body donor program at Washington University School of Medicine, says, “The size of the donor becomes cumbersome, not in the fact that we have to move the donor a whole lot, but in the ability to learn the anatomy as they go through dissection becomes more difficult.”
WashU makes weight decisions based on how the weight is carried on the body. SLU School of Medicine says female donors should not weigh more than 200 pounds, men 250 pounds. The University of Missouri Medical School has a general limit of 200 pounds.
And it’s not just donating your body that comes under weight restrictions.
“Usually we can get the body into the incinerator, we can get it cremated. Usually [the weight limit] is about 5, 6, 700 pounds,” says Gayle King, owner of St. Louis Cremation.
King says in one instance, he can recall the body was so large that cremation was not possible, so they had to end up burying the person.