An abhorrent betrayal
June 14, 2023
Dear Members of the HMS and HSDM Communities:
It is with profound sadness and distress that we write to share with you that federal authorities have accused a former Harvard Medical School employee of having engaged in activities that are morally reprehensible.
Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced the indictment and arrest of Cedric Lodge for the unlawful interstate transport of stolen human remains from “in or about 2018 through on or about August 16, 2022.” Lodge worked in the morgue as part of the Anatomical Gift Program until HMS terminated his employment on May 6. Investigators believe that Lodge acted without the knowledge or cooperation of anyone else at HMS or Harvard. Lodge was indicted along with other individuals not affiliated with Harvard.
We have been working with information supplied by federal authorities and examining our own records, particularly the logs showing when donor remains were sent to be cremated and when Lodge was on campus, to try to determine which anatomical donors may have been impacted. Federal authorities continue to investigate, and additional information may emerge.
We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus — a community dedicated to healing and serving others. The reported incidents are a betrayal of HMS and, most importantly, each of the individuals who altruistically chose to will their bodies to HMS through the Anatomical Gift Program to advance medical education and research.
We are so very sorry for the pain this news will cause for our anatomical donors’ families and loved ones, and HMS pledges to engage with them during this deeply distressing time. We have established the following specifically for family members and next of kin:
- Webpage with available resources for donor families and next of kin.
- Answers to frequently asked questions.
- Toll-free information and support center staffed by specially-trained counselors, who are currently available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 1-888-268-1129.
- Letters to be sent today via expedited delivery to documented next of kin.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has and will continue to attempt to identify victims and contact as many of the victims’ families affected by this case as possible. If anyone believes they or a family member may have been affected by the conduct charged in these indictments and information, please contact the Victim and Witness Unit at USAPAM.Victim.Information@usdoj.gov or 717-614-4249.
Our hearts also ache for the members of our community who work, teach, and learn in our anatomy lab, particularly our students and our anatomy faculty. We encourage you to access the available resources and supports outlined on this website for HMS and HSDM community members.
An important and meaningful part of how all first-year medical and dental students learn human anatomy is through the dissection and examination of donor cadavers. As HMS students ourselves in the 1980s and early 1990s, we both learned anatomy in the same dissection laboratory used today. The enormous respect and gratitude we felt toward the donors and the deep reverence we held for the process of dissection remain present with us today. Learning anatomy transforms students from pre-meds to physician-healers; it is an experience that changes your heart and soul, forever. Those values are passed down every fall to our new students who, each year, at the conclusion of their studies, hold a poignant, private memorial service to honor the donors.
HMS prides itself on lifelong learning and is dedicated to introspection, innovation, and growth, particularly in the face of challenge. These values drive our commitment to do all we can to prevent something like this from happening again. To that end, Harvard University has appointed an external panel of experts to evaluate our Anatomical Gift Program and morgue policies and practices, with the goal of providing constructive feedback and recommendations to improve security for the program and for the generous whole-body donations it receives.
We owe it to ourselves, our community, our profession, and our patients and their loved ones to ensure that HMS is worthy of the donors who have entrusted their bodies to us for the advancement of medical education and research. There is nothing more sacred and worthy of our attention and respect.
George Q. Daley
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
Edward M. Hundert
Dean for Medical Education
Harvard Medical School