Unhealed History of Bruce Tucker
In this season of sacrifice and light, I appreciate the many keen insights sent to me by readers of The Organ Thieves. I’m especially struck by your continued calls for honoring Bruce Tucker’s contributions to medical science as well as the sacrifices made by his family to this day.
I’m also grateful to Sandy Hausman, the award-winning correspondent for Virginia Public Media, for her recent report on Radio IQ/WVTF. Here’s an excerpt:
“The medical college, now known as VCU Health, has quietly expressed regret over the controversy surrounding the lack of consent from Bruce Tucker’s family before his heart was donated to an ailing white businessman who died a few days later. In a university magazine, VCU says the story ‘underscores the need to listen to and accept criticism and to learn from our past as we work to honor the dignity of all whom we serve.’
“But Chip Jones wonders if that's enough – especially in light of another discovery.
"In 1994, a huge construction project on the campus ground to a halt when construction workers were horrified to see human arms sticking out of the mud," he recalls. "Police called the university archaeology department, and they began to find bodies that were in a nearby well that had been dumped some time in the past. The remains were likely those of slaves or poor black residents of Richmond whose bodies were stolen from graves so medical students could dissect and study them.”
“The Organ Thieves has won considerable attention from news organizations nationwide as America grapples with questions of systemic racism.
“‘I love a quote from Richard Rohr, the theologian,’” [says Jones]. ‘You cannot heal what you do not acknowledge.’ I think there [are] still a lot of unacknowledged wounds that need to be healed.’"
“The book includes a teaching guide, and Jones hopes it can be used in high schools to explore issues of race and healing with the next generation.”
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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.