Saturday, January 31, 2015


This opinion I found on REDDIT of all places is a good synopsis that sums up just about everything I learned about the funeral industry on my own and is spoken verbatim and are the opinions of a licensed funeral director:

I’m a funeral director. Our entire industry is basically a pyramid scheme. It blows my mind how blindly people accept that certain things “have to” be done to the body of their loved one. Think about that for a second: this is the last tangible remnant of someone you loved and you are now going to pay stranger thousands (oftentimes HUNDREDS of thousands) of dollars to (warning: graphic from here on out) systematically mutilate that body.
There is nothing dignified about having one’s mouth wired shut, eyelids forced closed by spiked plastic contact lenses, and ramming a trocar into the abdomen to puncture organs so that they can be suctioned out. After the embalming fluid is introduced, the anus and vagina are stuffed with cotton and other absorbent materials to prevent what we refer to as “purge.” This charming phenomenon can occur any time after death – yes, before or after embalming, at any stage of decomposition – when the fluid created by tissues breaking down is leaked through any nearby orifice, oftentimes the nether regions. 
The process creates an enormous environmental problem; using toxic chemicals which are flushed into our sewers along with those pureed livers, hearts, spleens, pancreas’ which then also flow into our sewers. Oh, what’s that? I told you embalming is a legal requirement for public sanitation? That’s utter bullshit. If anything, it creates a sanitation problem if the cemetery you use is anywhere near a municipal water line, which most “commercial” cemeteries are.
In fact, in most states, the law only requires embalming if you are transporting a body across state lines or are not planning to inter for more than 72 hours and/or having a public viewing. It has not a single thing to do with public health. It’s a cash cow, plain and simple. It is barbaric, costly, and does not keep the body from deteriorating. But we’ll tell you just about anything you need to hear to get you to agree to it.
 What I’m doing here is incredibly illegal (secrets) and I know it, but on the slim-to-none-chance that you’re a sharp-minded consumer in the midst of your grief and call my state’s licensing board about it, all I have to do simply tell them you were mistaken. I’ve seen funeral directors force-feed families absolute horseshit – saying anything – to get them to sign a contract. Here’s a hint: don’t sign any pre-printed “form” contracts. Most of the contracts we use are super vague, so we can charge you for just about anything and justify it by pointing to your signature on the dotted line. It is in your best interest to only agree to specific itemized charges – i.e., have the hearse but no limousines. Or have hair/makeup done without any embalming. The law is very specific and on your side, but we count on your ignorance and vulnerability.
Even better, find a trusted friend or family member who is more emotionally stable right now and appoint them as your lawyer/detective. You know that bitchy sister-in-law everyone has who makes major holidays a nightmare? I can spot her a mile away and will do everything I can to keep her out of financial discussions – because I know she will take that obnoxious nagging and throw it at me for every single penny I’m trying to get out of your family. See my co-workers standing around looking somber and respectful? They’re not there to just have a presence of authority, they are studying you.
They are watching the family dynamic and will report back to me with any potential angles I can play to manipulate your emotions, which family members are taking it the hardest and will therefore be the easiest prey, and their estimation of your financial well-being. If, by the way, you appear to be less affluent, I’ll tell you to take your business elsewhere. This is not a hospital and I don’t provide a service – this is a business. If you aren’t paying me (in full and up front, generally), all you’re getting is my sympathy.

Do yourself a favor and read the FTC Funeral Rule. It’s very clear and concise in stating what you as the consumer are required to do and what rights you have. Did you know the casket I’m selling you for $5000 is really just a nicely decorated plywood box? If you were smarter, you’d know you don’t have to buy that from me. In fact, the law requires me to allow you to “BYOB.” Costco and Wal-Mart sell very reasonably priced nice caskets on their websites. If you happen to be armed with that tidbit of information, I’ll try to make it a practical issue: it will be easier to use the caskets we already have here. Another line of crap. All of the caskets at the funeral home are demo models (and are actually nice napping spots on slow days). Anything you buy will be delivered to the funeral home via freight the next day, just like the Wal-Mart caskets.
Another well-worn sales tactic is to try to shame you into going along with the exorbitant cost, implying you didn’t really love grandma enough if you spend less than five figures with me. You should know, by the way, that everything you buy from me – a guestbook, prayer cards, even the damn obituary notices – is marked up at least 200%. See the picture I’m painting here, kids? Smoke and mirrors. It hasn’t always been like this, but with the corporatization of the death care industry, the almighty dollar is the only consideration anymore.
Whew, this is getting to be a novel. Sorry, hang with me just a bit longer – we are getting to the major issue here.
Right now – literally right now, August 16, 2013 – the FTC is reviewing a merger between the years ago and is pretty much a figurehead at this point. Check his website carefully: at the bottom, you’ll probably see a copyright for either “Dignity Memorials” (SCI) or “STEI” (Stewart).
two largest funeral service corporations in the United States: Stewart and SCI. Stewart has 500-ish locations while SCI has 2000+. This will create a mega-Deception-conglomerate that will control at least 40% of all funeral service business transactions in this country – and that, my friends, is what antitrust regulations refer to as a monopoly. We are racing full speed ahead to the genesis of the McFuneral Home and nobody is doing anything about it. The reason? Misdirection. There’s no
Stewart Funeral Home or SCI Mortuary in your hometown. They’re operating under the same names they always have, letting you believe that the good people of Bubba & Sons Memorial Chapels would never steer you wrong. Bubba’s been around for 50 years! Bubba’s handled your family’s funerals for generations! Let me tell you something: Bubba cashed out 
Every single thing you’ve read in this thread about cutting corners, shoddy work, under-trained and under-paid employees, outsourcing certain processes, covering up mistakes… ALL OF IT HAPPENS IN THE FUNERAL INDUSTRY. Now, most of us are decent human beings and aren’t interested in getting freaky with dear old granny, but in terms of services performed and their actual value, you trust us WAY, WAY TOO MUCH.
You know how shitty the cell phone service provider market is right now and how worked up everyone gets about that? The funeral industry is worse. And we should all be raising hell, because EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US is going to have to conduct business with the deathcare industry eventually — be an informed consumer and know who you’re really giving your money to.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


$$$$$$$ - IT PAYS, BUT NOT YOU - $$$$$$$



Miguel L.

By Kate Willson

This is the fourth installment in an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists series.

Mandi Eisenbeis stood over her dad. It was a Thursday in May 2011 when she said her private good-byes at a funeral parlor in Lodi, Calif. George "Randy" Eisenbeis had died young, felled at age 57 by a methamphetamine overdose.

As she looked at him lying in the coffin, she noticed his hands were oozing blood.

Eisenbeis didn't know what had happened until later, when she learned the funeral director had sent a scathing complaint to the California Transplant Donor Network, the nonprofit organ and tissue bank that had stripped out Randy Eisenbeis' usable parts.

"To say this was simply a 'hack job' would be a compliment," Lodi Funeral Home's Michael Collins wrote in a letter accompanied by a series of graphic photos of the torn-apart corpse. "I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that you left his head and his hands for viewing, and yes, that is his severed foot in the photo to the bottom left of the embalming table."

In March the family sued the California organ bank, accusing it of fraud, mutilation of a corpse, and infliction of emotional distress.

According to call logs made of the consent process, the bank told Mandi Eisenbeis at least four times during the recorded consent process that the body would be properly put back together. She and the family couldn't give informed consent, the lawsuit charges, because those promises were lies designed to manipulate them into giving their okay.

The California Transplant Donor Network is accredited by the industry gold standard -- the American Association of Tissue Banks. According to its policies, tissue banks are required to reassemble a body out of respect for donors, their families and the professionals who handle bodies on their way to burial or cremation.

The tissue bank declined requests to comment for this story. In court filings the tissue bank has denied wrongdoing. In an earlier public statement the organization suggested that Randy Eisenbeis' corpse had been in good condition when it sent it to the morgue for autopsy. "No matter how complex the reconstruction process may be, it is a standard to which we adhere consistently," it said. "Unfortunately, we cannot speak to what may transpire once a donor's body leaves our control."

The medical examiner's autopsy findings, however, reported that Randy Eisenbeis came to him naked and skinned, with his feet "separated from the ankles."

What happened to Randy Eisenbeis may not be typical of how bodies are treated when they enter the tissue donation system. But as a worst-case scenario, his story provides a window onto a system that some say operates with inadequate regulatory scrutiny -- and raises questions about how well the industry lives up to its own standards about the manner in which tissue banks obtain consent to take tissues from the recently departed.

Families often know little about what happens after they say "yes." Ethics experts say many families in the U.S. and other countries assume that standard donor agreements apply only to hearts, lungs and internal organs. They don't realize that in the brave new world of tissue harvesting, the dead's bones, skin, tendons and heart valves can be cut out and used to create medical devices that can be sold for profit around the world.

Lack Of Information

Tissue from about 30,000 cadavers in the United States is cleaned and milled into medical devices each year and some is exported around the world. U.S. companies also obtain tissue from places including Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Latvia.

In many countries, the law allows tissue harvesting unless a donor opts out before death. In the United States, federal law requires that tissue harvesters get families' approval. How they do that is up to states to decide -- and many states have few requirements or guidelines. People are often unaware just what they are giving away when they agree to become a donor. And families often don't know that when they okay donations to nonprofit organizations such as the California Transplant Donor Network, the tissue routinely goes to for-profit companies, feeding a billion-dollar industry that uses those tissues for everything from repairing a knee to plumping up a penis.

Without uniform federal standards, it is mostly left up to tissue banks to decide how much information to share with donor families. Few states require that companies tell families their loved ones' tissue can be sold overseas, sent to a for-profit company or used in cosmetic procedures such as wrinkle-fillers and nose jobs.

"At present the industry thrives because of public ignorance and indifference regarding the for-profit involvement," Robert Katz, a law professor from Indiana University wrote in 2006. "Most donors are either unaware of such involvement, or it does not trouble them enough to stop donating."

In a 2010 study by researchers Laura Siminoff and Heather Traino, 70 percent of donor families said they'd object to a loved one's tissue going to a for-profit business. Yet fewer than one in five said they'd been told that the harvested tissues could go to a for-profit company.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, introduced legislation in 2007 that would have established mandatory requirements for what banks had to tell donor families, as well as try to limit the profits companies can make from the donation. But the bill died after heavy lobbying by the industry, Schumer said.

Industry representatives have declined to answer questions for this story.

A Legal Gray Area

Chris Truitt, a former industry insider, is among the advocates who are working to reform the system and force companies and nonprofits involved in the process to do a better job of informing the grieving about what will happen to remains of family members who've died. Truitt is the author of a book, "Dark Side of Tissue Donation," which exposes what he sees as abuses and profiteering within the donation system.

He began working in the industry after living through a family tragedy.

His daughter, Alyssa, was born with a condition that causes fluid to build in the brain. When Alyssa died at age 2, the Truitts donated her organs and tissues. It soothed the pain to know their daughter's death had helped others in need. He and his wife began promoting donation.

"I felt it was basically my calling in life," Truitt said. "I ended up doing what I could to find a position working in the field."

Truitt signed on with nonprofit tissue bank Allograft Resources of Wisconsin. "My job was to go out and do the procedures. To recover bones, skin, veins, heart valves," he explained. "We'd take the long bones out, we'd take skin out, take the veins out, take the heart valves out."

The tools were mostly those found in any operating room -- scalpels, retractors, scissors, and clamps. Sometimes, though, Truitt and other recovery technicians also used metal wedges and mallets to break through the bone.

Still, they prided themselves on being "stewards of the gift." Donors, he said, were treated with respect. Once, an elderly woman whose husband had died thanked Truitt for his work. "She said that at his age in life, he and she both felt that they were completely useless, they had nothing left to give.

But by being able to donate, it kind of showed that they still meant something, they were still worth something, they were still able to help somebody."

But the bank's record keeping was abysmal, making it impossible to track the tissue from donor to hospital buyer. In 2000 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter -- a serious and uncommon reproach. That's when RTI Biologics -- which had until then bought all the bank's tissue -- took over responsibility for its operations.

Once RTI got more involved in daily operations, Truitt said, training was upgraded. Experts came in to show him and his coworkers how to recover tissue in the most efficient manner. "I don't think they made it any more professional," he said. "I think they made it more industrial."

The industrial part of processing and distributing tissue is so different from the soft nonprofit face that donor families are often shocked. "The for-profit trade in body parts is a legal gray area," said Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance. "This affects the confidence of the public and the whole donation process."

Truitt has nothing against for-profit companies being involved in the industry. He just wants families to be fully informed when the dead's remains are used to make commercial products. "What I'm saying is that I want that choice. I want to be able to know what that means. And I don't think that's what families are getting."

That can be a challenge, given differences in disclosure laws among states as well as families' vulnerability during the time of grieving.

Some families don't want all the details, and it's up to the organization seeking the tissue to judge how much to disclose, according to Christina Strong, a lawyer for organ and tissue banks and an expert on donation regulations.

Some families, Strong said, might say, "This is freaking abuse. Look, I'm giving OK. That's it." Others might say, "Yes, take it," but they want an open casket funeral, which means that they need to be aware of the kinds of tissues to be taken and how that will affect the person's appearance and clothing selection.

Most tissue donation center requests analyzed in the 2010 study didn't tell families that they could decide not to donate. And none told families they could change their minds after initially agreeing, according to the study published earlier this year in The Journal of Trauma, a medical journal.

Families often have even less information and fewer rights when it comes to harvesting tissue from the dead overseas. Express consent isn't required, for example, when a company gets tissue from some former Soviet nations.

RTI's trade-partner turned subsidiary, Tutogen Medical, has obtained tissue from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Latvia, where everyone is a donor unless they expressly opt out. The company also obtains tissue from Ukraine, where government morgues can recover tissue from the dead if they gain family consent.

Four of Tutogen's Ukrainian suppliers have been investigated for allegedly taking tissue against the wishes of donors or their families. The first case was dismissed when prosecutors couldn't prove the tissue hand been transplanted. The second was dismissed after the defendant died while a court deliberated his case. Two recent investigations are still pending.

The income that can be made from recovery to distribution is anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000, according to industry experts and court testimony. There is a cost involved in recovering, processing and distributing the tissue.

Overseas and in the U.S., some companies that profit from human tissue spend considerable resources cultivating sources of fresh bodies.

Phillip Guyett, who worked as a ground-level body wrangler in California, North Carolina and Las Vegas before he was sent to prison for falsifying death records, said the demand for tissue grows more intense every year. One tissue buyer, Guyett said, summed up the all-out competition for corpses this way: "Whoever has the most bone wins."

A Profit Machine

When RTI took over the Wisconsin tissue bank where Chris Truitt worked, he said employees were pushed to compete hard with other tissue banks for access to bodies -- courting hospitals, funeral homes and morgues. "We would convince them when they came across a death to call us in for the tissue, rather than some other tissue bank," Truitt said.

Once the tissue left the bank, it was sent to RTI, sterilized and milled into implants. "It is a medical device. It's regulated as a medical device," he said. "It's no longer part of Uncle John. It's product XYZ123."

Skin from the Wisconsin bank was also sent to New Jersey-based LifeCell. Truitt says a representative of LifeCell initiated an award for the person who could recover the most tissue from a donor. He said the award was named the Golden Dermatome Award after the instrument designed to strip layers of skin off a donor's back, thighs and arms.

Life-Cell did not respond to questions about the award but said in a statement to ICIJ that the company "is committed to improving patients' lives."

"When they started giving out those rewards, it really sunk into me that instead of being stewards of the gift and treating each donor with the ultimate in respect, the company was actually looking at each donor as a profit machine, as nothing more than raw resources," Truitt said. "And it was our job to take as much of those resources as we possibly could."

He left the bank, disillusioned that any profits could be made from recycling human tissues from donors like his daughter. He even had his name removed from his state's list of tissues donors, but remains an organ donor. He hasn't given up hope.

"Saving lives, making lives better. That's what it should be all about," Truitt said. "I talk with a lot of recipients. I talk with a lot of donor families. And we all feel the same thing. It's too important a thing, too incredible a thing to just stop. We have to fix it instead."

Mandi Eisenbeis hopes that her family's lawsuit, filed this spring in San Joaquin County (Calif.) Superior Court against the California Transplant Donor Network, will spur that kind of reform among recovery banks.

The case is still in its early stages; the family's lawyers hope lawmakers will notice the case and call for changes in how they obtain consent and treat donor bodies.

Eisenbeis said the condition of her father in the coffin -- and the photos she saw afterward that showed the full picture of the mutilation -- roused her to take her complaints to the bank.

Three times, she said, she sent copies of the funeral director's letter and pictures to the tissue bank.

Three times the bank said it never received the mail. Then, she said, it stopped picking up the phone at all.

It was only after getting the silent treatment, she said, that her family decided to file the lawsuit.
"I don't want anyone to go through what I felt the day I saw those pictures," she said. "For me, I just wanted things to change, and when I saw those pictures I knew that I had to do everything I could to get someone to stand up and listen to me."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014



I have received many, many questions after my last post on body donation. Again, like cremation or burial, We at Avenidas Funeral Chapel neither condone or recommend body donation. it is a personal choice. But should you choose to donate, please be informed and ask questions. Know what your are getting yourself into. It is not bad, just different.

Question: Who is eligible to donate for the advancement of medical education and research?

Answer: Almost anyone can donate regardless of age, health and location within the United States. Although a few exclusions exist, most people qualify. Please contact us for your donation options.

Question: If I am an organ donor for transplantation, can I still donate for medical education and research?

Answer: There is not a definite answer to this question. It depends on which organs and tissue were donated for transplant and what current organs and tissue are needed by medical educators and researchers.

Question: If I am declined as an organ donor for transplant, does that mean that I am also excluded from donating to medical education and research?

Answer: No. Transplantation and medical education and research have very different exclusions. Transplantation exclusions are much stricter, requiring viable, non-diseased tissue. However, in medical education and research donation, diseased tissue is desirable and is often matched up with a medical educator or researcher studying that particular disease.

Question: Can my family request cremated remains?

Answer: Yes. The return of cremated remains to the next-of-kin is an option and is free of charge.

Question: Can I specify the research program and/or institution I wish to donate to?

Answer: This is difficult to do since different research programs accept tissue at different times. However, most will work with you or your loved ones to make every reasonable effort to fulfill your wish.

Question: Does an autopsy prohibit donation for medical education and research?

Answer: No. An autopsy does not exclude donation for medical education and research. However, a blood sample will need to be drawn prior to the autopsy.

Question: Do I need to pre-consent in order to be a donor?

Answer: No. After death has occurred, the legal next-of-kin can consent to donation if all family members are in agreement.

Question: Where does your donation facilities funding come from?

Answer: That facility is a self-funded medical education and research tissue bank that receives reimbursements from universities, government agencies, corporate and private medical institutions for the professional services we provide. They also adhere to all state and federal regulations through the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.

Question: What is the corporate status of the facility you refer and its affiliated research programs?

Answer: we refer a facility that is incorporated as a taxable organization. The medical education and research programs that rely on that facility for anatomical tissue specimens are both for profit and non-profit.

Question: How does my religion feel about organ and tissue donation?

Answer: Most major religions are supportive of organ and tissue donation but we recommends checking with your spiritual advisor.

Question: Are there any financial costs associated with whole body donation for medical education and research?

Answer: Most whole body donation facilities pays for a direct cremation (cremation, transportation and filing of the death certificate). If a donor’s family chooses to have an urn, memorial service, ship out of ashes etc., those additional selections can be arranged with the funeral home at the family’s expense.

Question: Is the personal information of donors kept confidential?

Answer: Absolutely, Donor companies adheres to strict confidentiality practices. All donors are assigned a unique identification number that is used throughout the donation process to keep the donor’s personal information confidential.

Question: Why is human tissue donated for medical education and research purposes?

Answer: There is no substitute for human tissue when studying the body. Physicians, doctors, medical educators and researchers around the world rely on donated tissue to help further medical advancements and/or to complete their studies on the many debilitating diseases that continue to afflict mankind.

Question: When will cremated remains be returned to the family?

Answer: The donation process does not slow the cremation process. Remains are usually returned to the family within 4-6 weeks.

Question: If I’m a donor, can I have a traditional funeral service?

Answer: Most whole-body donors are cremated and therefore a traditional funeral with an open “viewing” casket is not an option. However, a closed casket service is a possibility.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

THE DARK SIDE OF TISSUE DONATION........ One mans Journey.

The following article was copied from the website . I do not make any claims to its authenticity and it is strictly informative in nature. It is one mans "Journey".  It is a very good blog. Remember, THIS GUY WORKED IN THE INDUSTRY AND DONATED HIS DAUGHTERS ORGANS, He has seen both sides.....


The Dark Side of Tissue Donation

For as long as tissue banks have been in existence there has been a debate over which is a better steward of the gift; a for-profit agency or a not-for-profit agency.
At the heart of the debate is the fact that no donor family likes the idea that someone may be getting rich from the sale of their loved one’s organs and tissues. The family is donating the gifts for purely humanitarian reasons; their hope is that someone else’s life will be saved or at the very least made better by the gifts so graciously donated.
This is how my wife and I felt when we chose to donate our two-year-old daughter’s organs and heart valves on March 1st of 1999. At the time our number one goal was to create something positive from the death of our daughter; to help someone else live by giving our daughter’s organs and tissues. We simply assumed that whoever used our daughter’s gifts would be good stewards of the gifts meaning that they would be procured appropriately and distributed appropriately.
The Personal Journey
The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic’s Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) harvested our daughter’s liver, pancreas and intestines and Allograft Resources (which was a not-for-profit tissue procurement organization at the time) harvested her heart valves.

After our daughter’s death and subsequent donation we had the incredible chance to meet the recipient and her family. We were able to see first-hand the good that can come from organ and tissue donation. Our single goal was achieved; through our daughter’s gifts helped save another family from going through what we were going through at that very moment – planning for the funeral of our baby girl.

 I believed in organ and tissue donation so strongly that shortly after my daughter’s donation I was hired by Allograft Resources as a member of their procurement team. Over the years, though, Allograft Resources was essentially “bought” by the organization that processed the donated tissues that Allograft Resources recovered – Regeneration Technologies Inc. (RTI) of Alachua, FL (a for-profit company). As Allograft Resources began changing hands, the focus of the “business” began changing from helping donor families to helping the company’s bottom line.
The Ugly Dollar raises its head yet again
Soon after the acquisition of Allograft Resources RTI became a publicly traded company. That is when things really started going down hill. For example LifeCell, a skin processing company, began handing out “Golden Dermatome” awards (a dermatome is the surgical instrument used to procure skin) to the people that recovered the most skin per donor. Instead of being careful to follow the wishes of the family our procurement teams competed against each other to see who could recover the most skin. In reality, the Donors were reduced to nothing more than a square footages of skin.
Another example of “beefing up the bottom line” was the introduction of “research” tissue procurement. Families are told that tissues not suitable for transplant may be suitable for use by researchers searching for cures for diseases and conditions. What the families weren’t told was that research tissues may include the procurement of an entire foot, an ear, a nose, a spine – virtually anything (especially if the donor was to be a direct cremation).
By the time a procurement team was done with a donor, the tissues could be sold for a total that sometimes topped $100,000 (from what limited information I could gather – tissue banks are tight-lipped about the values of human tissue).
I began investigating where the money trail led. The emotion behind this charged topic is simple: no donor family wants to think that some company executive is driving around in a Jaguar purchased with an exorbitant salary earned from the sale of donated organs and tissues. Unfortunately, though, that’s exactly what is happening.
In reviewing RTI’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings and stockholder reports the true
magnitude of the money being earned by this one company alone is very obvious.
In 2003 RTI listed net revenues at $75.5 million and in 2004 that number climbed to $92.7 million. In 2003 executive compensation packages added up to over $1.4 million dollars with the CEO earning over half a million dollars alone.

 In 2005 available bonuses for the executives range from $250,000 for the CEO to $90,000 for the VPs and total $710,000 together. This is in addition to the 4% raise that was approved for each executive’s salary.
As if this wasn’t enough, RTI set up a “retention and severance agreement” designed to “maintain stability” following the company’s announcement that they’re exploring “strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value”. The retention and severance agreement would come into play should the company be sold if the “strategic review” leads to the sale of the company.
Over $1.7 MILLION ($1,700,000.00) has been set aside to reward employees for staying with the new company as a retention bonus or to be paid as severance pay should they lose their job in the shuffle.

 At the heart of the matter is one, simple fact ;
everyone is making money off the donated organs and tissues and not one cent finds its way back to the donor or donor family.
 Procurement teams are paid, the facilities where the procurements are taking place are paid, procurement agencies’ operating budgets are paid, shipping to processing labs is paid, processing costs are covered and the final cost to the end recipient is charged by the hospital who is charged by the processing lab for that particular tissue. Even the nurses and doctors in the transplant surgery are paid. Thousands of people make their livings (and damn good livings) off gifts so graciously donated by humanitarians.
How is this fair?
There is a federal law on the books that makes it illegal to sell human organs and tissues but it does allow for the recovery of “necessary costs and fees” relating to the procurement, processing and transplanting of the donated tissues. unfortunately these companies are responsible and the CEO's are the ones designating the outrageous prices for procurement, processing and transplanting of the your deceased family members donated tissues. In other words, they sidestep the law to designate how much they will charge to do the "Paperwork", and tell the federal government that the tissue is free. This can vary from patient to patient, tissue sample to tissue sample, or decedent to decedent. Its what they choose to charge for the "Paperwork". Not the tissue........
Something for the family.....

 It is time that the greedy for-profit and not-for-profit organ and tissue banks stop hiding behind this law and start paying at least something back to the donor family. Keep in mind; no donor family will ever say that they hoped to realize a financial gain by donating their loved one’s tissues. Everyone, like me, has deeply personal reasons for donating. However, that doesn’t mean that everybody but the family should make money from the gifts.
Average Funeral....
My proposal is simple; require tissue banks and organ procurement organizations to pay for an “average” funeral for the donor (with “average” taking into account the geographic and economic region’s average funeral costs). The family can choose a more elaborate funeral but the OPOs and
Average Funeral Costs.......
tissue banks would only be required to pay out “average” costs. The family should also be given the opportunity to use the payout to fund any memorial or charity they wish (such as a bench in the park or donation to hospice care etc.).

 This would end the hotly contested and often debated for-profit versus not-for-profit status. In the end, everyone in the business turns a profit off the gifts so graciously donated. It is only right that the family receive a portion to either cover the funeral or to be used charitably. Although it is a statement that you will probably never hear voluntarily from a donor family, if everyone else is making money from our loved ones’ gifts we deserve something too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) released the results of its 2013 Member General Price List Study in August 2013. The report provides a comprehensive picture of the diversity of costs associated with a funeral/burial service in the United States..

Perhaps the most frequently requested piece of information produced by the survey is the national average  cost of a funeral. Since the 1960s, NFDA has calculated the average cost of a funeral by totaling the costs of the following items:
  • Non-declinable basic services fee
  • Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home
  • Embalming
  • Other preparation of the body
  • A metal casket or rental casket
  • Use of the funeral home and staff for viewing
  • Use of the funeral home and staff for a funeral ceremony
  • Use of the funeral home and staff for a graveside service or urn 
  • Use of a hearse
  • Use of a service car/van
  • A basic memorial printed package (e.g., memorial cards, register book, etc.)
The national average cost of a funeral, as quoted by the NFDA for calendar year 2013 is $7,635. If a grave vault is included, something that is typically required by a cemetery, the average cost is $8,933. The cost does not take into account cemetery, monument or marker costs, crematory fees (if cremation is selected instead of burial), or miscellaneous cash-advance items, such as flowers, obituaries and funeral procession escorts. Many factors contribute to the final determination of how an individual funeral home prices its good and services, including the firm's business philosophy and the market in which it operates and corporate or independent ownership.

National AVERAGE Cost of an Adult Funeral vs. Avenidas Funeral Chapel as per the National Funeral Director Association for 2013

Services or Merchandise                                            NFDA COST   Avenidas COST
Non-declinable basic services Charge                                  $1,975             $795
Transfer of remains to funeral home                                     $285                $250
Embalming                                                                            $695                $395
Other preparation of the body                                               $225                $160
Use of facilities/staff for a visitation                                     $495                $295
Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony                          $495                $295
Use of facilities/staff for a graveside service or urn             $495                $175
Basic Memorial Print Package                                              $150                $85
Hearse                                                                                    $295                $300
Service car/van                                                                      $130                $50      
Subtotal without casket                                                      $5,240             $2,800
Metal casket                                                                          $2,395             $850 (12 different styles)
Average cost for the most frequently purchased casket)

Average cost of funeral with casket                                     $7,635             $3,650  
Vault(grave box)                                                                  $1,298             $680 (concrete grave box)
Average charge for the most frequently purchased vault)
Total with services, vault and casket                     $8,933     $4,330

That's a savings of  $4,603.00 with Avenidas Funeral Chapel or the standard price for a cemetery plot, or even a second funeral service. (pre-arrangement?) That gives you $273 left over (mariachi?).

So there you have it. This is a survey of random funeral homes, including those in the greater Phoenix area and their pricing for services for burial, but can also give you an idea as to what they may charge for cremation. The price comparison that is introduced reflecting Avenidas Funeral Chapels prices is as those items selected from our General Price List. We have funeral packages that offer much more at a substantial saving to you and your family far under the price listed above. These are burial packages that are inclusive of everything needed, also we have access to cemetery property at a local cemetery for $2,995, opening and closing included. Oh, and that price for direct cremation? $585. Compared to our local corporate competitor? $2,200.

Monday, September 16, 2013


An article I found on It is informative and very neutral. Please feel free to develop your own conclusions.

Have you ever considered what your funeral should be like, what kind of service there should be, or even what kind of coffin you would prefer? If you're over age 50, you probably have, and you may have even done some pre-planning.
According to a 2007 survey by AARP, 34 percent of the over-50 population has done some pre-planning and 23 percent have pre-paid a portion or all of the funeral or burial expenses for themselves or someone else. That translates into 20 million people age 50 or older who have already paid some funeral expenses.
A traditional funeral, including a casket and vault, costs about $6,000, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and additions such as obituary notices, flowers and limousines easily run up the total to over $10,000.
There are plenty of reasons to pre-plan and, if possible, pre-pay your final arrangements long before the need arises.
Pre-planning, is it worth it?
Most funeral homes today offer pre-planning services. This allows you to go in and make arrangements for some or all of your own funeral, down to every detail. The funeral director will give you a price list for goods and services, which is required under the FTC's "Funeral Rule."
Pre-planning relieves your family of significant stress and uncertainty over arrangements. It may even head off arguments among family members over what you wanted for your services and burial.
Price guarantees?
If you elect to pre-pay your arrangements, many funeral directors will offer a price guarantee. That means you can lock in today's prices no matter when your funeral is held in the future. With funeral prices only destined to go up, this is a smart choice.
If your prices are not locked in and you pre-pay, your family may need to pay extra at the time of your funeral to make up the difference.
In drawing up pre-paid contracts, funeral directors may offer guaranteed prices for some items but not for others. For example, prices on flowers and grave services may not be guaranteed.
Pre-paying a funeral
Once your pre-planned arrangements are set, you can elect to pay a portion or all of the bill before your death. This too lifts the burden from family members and helps ensure that your wishes are carried out. There are three main ways to fund a pre-paid funeral:
·         Final expense insurance
·         Pre-need insurance
·         Pre-need trusts
·         Pay On Death Account
Final expense insurance
Final expense insurance, also known as "burial" or "funeral" insurance, is a life insurance policy with a low face value, such as $5,000 to $50,000, that you buy directly from an insurance company. You can name any beneficiary, typically a family member, who would make the claim and receive the money upon your death. That beneficiary would then be responsible for using the money to carry out your wishes.
The beneficiary legally could decide to use the money any way they want, so make sure you trust your beneficiary. Also, if your benefit amount exceeds the cost of your funeral, the beneficiary keeps the difference. For example, if you have a final expense policy for $15,000 and your services and burial end up costing $12,000, your beneficiary would pay the bill and keep the extra $3,000.
"Final expense" insurance policies are low face value term or whole life policies.
Final expense policies are either "term life" (which covers you for a specific time period or until a certain age, then expires) or "whole life" (which covers you for the rest of your life). They are generally either "simplified issue" policies, for which you're asked several medical questions but don't have to take a medical exam, or "guaranteed issue," where the policy is issued to anyone who applies with no medical questions asked.
For example, Globe Life markets final expense policies through direct mail with face values from $5,000 to $50,000. Globe Life's final expense policies are "term to 80," meaning that the policies expires at age 80 if no benefit has been paid. They are "simplified issue" policies with applications that ask for your medical history going back three years. The maximum age for buying Globe Life final expense insurance is 75.
People who have a serious health problem may receive a policy with a "graded death benefit," which means the coverage amount increases over time and your beneficiaries won't receive the full face value if you die within the first few years of the policy.
Remember that any life insurance policy can be used to pay for a funeral. You can buy any term or whole life policy and instruct your beneficiary to use a portion or all of the death benefit for your funeral. Standard term and whole life policies, however, aren't offered in low face amounts like $5,000, which is why final expense policies can be handy if you need insurance money only to cover funeral expenses.
If you have other financial obligations, such as a mortgage and dependents who are counting on you to pay for college, you're better off buying a standard term life or whole life policy in an amount that can cover a number of family needs, including final expenses.
Pre-need insurance
Another type of life insurance policy, called pre-need insurance, is intended for the person who has selected specific arrangements at a funeral home and wants the assurance that those arrangements will be paid for and implemented. Unlike final expense policies, which you buy directly from an insurance company, pre-need policies are sold by funeral home directors or their representatives who are also licensed agents. The funeral home is the beneficiary of the policy and the funeral director  or his agent receives a commission, like any agent, for selling you the policy.
These policies can be paid in one lump sum or over time. Funeral directors who are agents for pre-need insurance typically offer policies underwritten by just one company. That means you won't be able to "comparison shop" for price; you'll have to take the pre-need policy rate that's offered or decline it.
The funeral home is the beneficiary of the pre-need insurance policy.
 Say you've picked out a funeral home and made pre-arrangements there by selecting goods and services that total $5,000. If the funeral home offers pre-need insurance, you could purchase a policy right there for $5,000. Even better would be if the funeral home offered a price guarantee for your selections. If they don't, and your future funeral costs $6,500, your family would need to pay the extra $1,500 to carry out your wishes.
Pre-need insurance saves your family effort, too. The funeral director makes the claim, receives the money, and carries out your wishes. Before buying, find out what happens if you change your mind and want to move arrangements to a different funeral home.
"Insurance is king," says Chuck Wetmore of American Funeral & Cemetery Trust Services in Oregon, which helps administer pre-need trusts around the country, including the California Master Trust. Wetmore estimates that about 80 percent of pre-paid funerals are funded by insurance.
Pre-need insurance laws vary by state and New York does not allow the sale of pre-need insurance at all.
Pre-need trusts
Another option is to make pre-arrangements with your funeral director and fund those arrangements by putting cash into a trust, which holds the money until your death and then disperses it to the funeral director. This arrangement also relieves your family of last-minute decisions. But just as with pre-need insurance, if you don't have a “price guarantee” on your funeral selections, it's possible that the money you put into a trust today won't fully cover expenses in the future.
Under this arrangement, your payment for funeral arrangements is deposited into a federally insured bank until your death. Depending on your state, your money may be put into an individual trust account or a "master" trust, which pools many individual trusts. The value of the trust can rise and fall depending on the investment performance. However, if you have a guaranteed-price contract from your funeral director, he takes on the market risk from the trust and must provide the services you selected no matter how well the trust's investments have performed.
A pre-need trust holds the money until your death and then disperses it to the funeral director.
Many states allow funeral directors to keep a portion of your trust payment. For example, Washington allows a funeral director to keep 10 percent, Nebraska allows 15 percent and Colorado allows 25 percent. California allows nothing to be retained by funeral directors.
No matter what amount a funeral director may retain, if you cancel your trust you will receive all your money back.
If trust investments have done well, there will be "overage" between the trust value and the cost of the funeral. What happens then varies by region. Some funeral directors will pocket the difference; east of the Mississippi, they usually return it to the family. In New York, any money left in the trust after funeral costs must be returned to the family.
Pre-need trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. Funds in a revocable trust can be withdrawn at any time if you change your mind. But if you're spending down your assets in order to qualify for social services such as Medicaid, you'd need to put your pre-paid funeral money into an irrevocable trust, which cannot be withdrawn until your death and removes it from your assets.
Your funeral director may offer both pre-need insurance and trust services. If you're set on using a particular funeral home, your pre-pay options will be limited by what the funeral director has chosen to offer. Funeral directors who offer only pre-need trusts do not have to go through the time and expense of getting licensed in order to sell pre-need insurance in the state.
Pay on Death account
Establish a "Pay on Death" (POD) account at your bank. This is an account designating your funeral home as the beneficiary upon your death. Make sure you inform the funeral home, family members, executor and lawyer of the existence of the account. You can cancel the account without penalty.
Earmark a savings account. Make provisions for your family members to withdraw funds at your death to pay for funeral services. You can always change your mind.
Weighing pre-need insurance vs. pre-need trusts
In Wetmore's opinion, "Trusts are better for the family and the funeral director." If you're weighing your options, here are some important points to consider:
  1. Ask for a guaranteed price plan no matter how you'll fund your funeral.
  2. For items and services that cannot be price-guaranteed, ask for a written estimate of the cost so your family will know what to expect.
  3. You may be declined for insurance due to age or health.
  4. The funeral home director receives a commission for selling you a pre-need policy.
  5. You can't "comparison shop" for pre-need insurance rates; the funeral director chooses your insurer, but you select the face amount.
  6. Funeral directors may have financial incentives for selling a large volume of pre-need policies; for example, they may receive extra compensation if they sell a lot of policies for one company.
  7. If you use a pre-need trust, make sure your contract includes a cancellation clause. Some states may allow a "revocation fee" to be charged.
  8. If your money is held in a trust, in some states your family members may be able to strip down your funeral service arrangements and receive cash back.
  9. Know where your trust money is being invested; you may receive an annual statement of earnings or be required to report interest income on your taxes.
  10. If you received social services before your death, your family cannot receive trust money back; any difference between the funeral cost and the trust amount would have to be returned to the state.
  11. If you're buying a final expense or pre-need insurance policy, find out if it's possible you will pay more premiums than your beneficiaries will receive in death benefit.
  12. AARP urges you to find out if your pre-paid arrangements can be moved to another funeral home.
 "It's all taken care of"
Pre-paid funerals, no matter how they're funded, and guaranteed-price contracts can offer tremendous peace of mind to you and your family.
But people may have different ideas about "taking care of everything."
"Mom/Dad said everything was taken care of." That's what We hear often when we talk to families. Yet families who were told by parents that "everything was taken care of" often had unpleasant surprises upon arriving at the funeral home.
In our experience, often some families are surprised to discover that only a burial plot had been paid for. Others are surprised to find out that a list of desired arrangements was made at a funeral home but nothing paid for. Still other families have been told that "everything is taken care of" but never told which funeral home has the paperwork. And then there are the families who find out after a funeral that a pre-need plan was in place at a funeral home across town. (In that case, proceeds go back to the family.)
any way, it tends to cause a lot of turmoil within the family, if not done right, But what is right? That is up to you, the family or the individual to decide...
Whatever level of pre-arranging you do, make sure that key members of your family know what's in place and where.
Where can I go with this policy?
The magic about a pre-need funeral insurance is that you can use it anywhere!!! (unless it specifically says). If you are told you cant, ask the funeral home to "SHOW YOU". Better yet, TAKE it to another funeral home and ask them.
Lets say you purchase a policy at a local funeral home in Tolleson or Goodyear Arizona. The policy itself has a value of about $6,500.00 In that policy you have purchased;
1. Basic Service of the funeral director and staff
2. Transport to the funeral home
3. Embalming & body preparation
4. Dressing Casketing and cosmetics
5. 20 gauge Casket of your choosing at the time
6. 2 hour visitation
7. Church service
8.  Hearse
9. Flower van
10. Book and folders
11. Casket cross
12. Graveside service
13. Cash advance items of $1,000.00 for;
  • Flowers
  • Escorts
  • Some cemetery charges
  • Musicians
  • Death certificates
  • Dove release
All these items are charged or added up at that specific funeral homes charges. Thus $6,500.00 is your cost.
So lets say you want to go to another local funeral home in Avondale where the same services cost about $3,800.00...
Well, that leaves you with $2,700.00 too use as you wish to add more to the same service for the deceased at this lower costing funeral home, or even take home with you.
That's $2,700.00.....
Now, as the policy grows old, the cash you pay into this policy grows interest, that interest is used to pay for the service when you need to use it at that times charges. That is how funeral homes "lock in" those prices.
Should you choose to use that policy at another location, that is less expensive than the local Goodyear or Tolleson funeral home, you will probably have funds "LEFT OVER".
 Let me repeat that, you will probably have funds "LEFT OVER"
What can you do with those funds? ANYTHING YOU LIKE! Add on to the service, spend it at the cemetery for a marker, use it to have a luncheon after the service or even a little gathering for food.
Basically, it is your to decide. Just because it is in the policy does not mean that you HAVE to give it to the funeral home.
Oh, and that "CASH ADVANCE" amount in the policy? it was put there to pay for those items listed above, please do not let the funeral director con you into upgrading the casket using that money. That is pure profit for them, and now you have to pay for those cash advance items out of pocket.
So there you go, now you know. Use the policy where you want, no matter what the funeral home says. It is to be used to bury the deceased, not profit the funeral home.