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Monday, February 26, 2024 | Back issues
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Forced to Barter|Over Their Son’s Body

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A hospital that refused to sew up the body of a drunk driving victim put his parents in the position of having to barter with a funeral home to take the body, the parents claim in court.

Sandra and Russell Johnston sued Tenet Healthsystem, in City Court.

Their 19-year-old son, Cary Johnston, died at St. Louis University Hospital on Dec. 20, 2008 after the car he was in was hit by a drunk driver.

Cary Johnston's torso was opened during emergency surgery, then the hospital resealed it, his parents say.

After their son died, the parents asked that his organs be donated, so his torso was reopened. It was determined that no organs could be donated, so the Johnstons say they contacted Moore Funeral Home to pick up the body.

"Once Moore arrived at defendant's hospital, Moore informed defendant that it could not transport decedent's body until decedent's torso was surgically closed," the complaint states. "Decedent's mother, Sandra Johnston, then instructed defendant to sew and close decedent's torso, but defendant refused.

"After said refusal by defendant, Moore informed the Johnston family that decedent's body must be cremated due to defendant's refusal to properly prepare decedent's body. Plaintiffs were then forced to barter with Moore which sewed and closed decedent's body only upon monetary payment from the Johnstons."

The parents seek damages for emotional distress and anguish.

They are represented by Ryan Cox, of St. Charles, Mo.

Tenet Healthsystem SL, which owns and operated St. Louis University Hospital, is the lone defendant.

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