SF man’s dying wish to donate body was not fulfilled

Created: 07/25/2014 9:22 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A Santa Fe man's dying wish to donate his body to UNM medical students was not fulfilled, even though he had been accepted into the Anatomical Donation Program.

Chuck Pagliarulo found out last year he had stage four lung cancer that had spread to several organs.  He and his wife Terese decided to sign up through UNM's Anatomical Donation Program to donate their bodies to science after death.

Terese said it also made financial sense because after all of Chuck's medical bills, she couldn't afford the cost of a funeral or cremation.  The program uses funding to pick up the body for UNM med students to use for up to two years.  Then the remains are cremated and the donor is memorialized, all at no cost to the donor's family.

Terese says it was the only thing Chuck was excited about after his diagnosis.  But on Chuck's death bed, Terese found out the program was at capacity and couldn't accept any more bodies.  So Terese had to borrow money to have her husband cremated.

"Feeling like I let him down and didn't keep my word, and we always kept our marriage vows.  We took them very seriously and we were always there for each other.  Now I feel like in his dying wish, I didn't do what he wanted," Terese said.

UNM Health Sciences spokesperson John Arnold says the warning about limited space and funding is on the back of the donor card and on their website.  But he says they will review how they communicate that to their potential donors to make sure it is very clear.

Arnold said they don't have to shut down the program often, but this year there was an unusual surge in donors and they are at capacity with 65 bodies.  The program will start accepting body donations again in August.

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