It's been more than two years since the publication of The Organ Thieves, but Virginia Commonwealth University -- home of the former Medical College of Virginia -- has finally apologized for the tragic treatment of Bruce Tucker and his family. In this recent post -- today’s news from Virginia Commonwealth University -- VCU announced a “Resolution regarding the late organ donor Mr. Bruce Tucker and the East Marshall Street Well.”
The VCU Board of Visitors, along with the Board of Directors of the VCU Health System, issued a lengthy resolution admitting the university (as MCV) “engaged in medical experimentation and research that resulted in dehumanizing practices for handling the remains of primarily Black and enslaved people.” These despicable practices are well-documented in my book.
Regarding the 1968 heart transplant – long heralded as a great moment in Virginia medical history – the resolution states: “VCU acknowledges and sincerely apologizes to the late Mr. Bruce Tucker, and to his family, for the Medical College’s transplant of his heart 54 years ago.”
They also authorized the “commissioning of a plaque… to honor Mr. Tucker’s important role in the early history of heart transplantation and to place it in a location of honor at VCU Medical Center.” Here's VCU's news release about its plans.
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at VCU on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 6.pm. Click here to learn more about this free lecture open to the public, so c’mon down! Whether or not you can make it, thanks for your interest in setting the historical record straight and – however late or inadequate it may be – in honoring Bruce Tucker and his family.
Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the first elected African-American governor in the United States, will speak on "The Organ Thieves" at his annual symposium, "Racism, Health, and Accountability." The free event is open to the public on Monday, September 19 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts at 922 Park Ave. Click here to learn more (if you can't attend, VCU's planning a live stream).
VCU notes that Wilder served as the legal counsel for the family of Bruce Tucker, "a Black man, [who] had his heart transplanted -- without his family's consent -- into a white businessman..." in 1968. "The case exemplified a journey to fight racism and demand accountability for a gross violation of human rights. As the signature speaker, [Wilder] will discuss the complex ethical issues exposed during the case, as well as examine its lasting historic impact today."
Gov. Wilder's address is part of series of educational events tied to "The Organ Thieves" as VCU's 2022 "Common Book" for first-year students. I'll speak at the Singleton Center on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. Looking forward to seeing you!
Chip Jones is an award-winning author, journalist and former communications director of the Richmond Academy of Medicine. The Organ Thieves is his fourth book.