How mortifying this must be for family members when a loved one is turned away from a morgue because they are just too fat. It is bad enough you have to deal with weight problems in life, but now in death too?
According to the New York Daily News on June 20, a morgue at the Hedland Health Campus in Western Australia absolutely refused to take a 440-pound dead man because they had no way of storing his body. This refusal made for some eerie arrangements for a funeral director who was stuck storing the dead man's body in a hearse overnight.
Joanne Cummings, a funeral director, was turned away at Hedland because their refrigerator systems can only handle corpses up to 330-pounds due to "health and safety reasons." The two-hour journey back home called for the hearse to have the air conditioner on high as the temperature outside was 82 degrees.
Three tanks of gas later, the body made it through the night keeping chilled in the hearse. Cummings had to leave the hearse running all night so the body would not rapidly decompose from the heat.
In the morning she rented a chilled shipping container for the corpse. It sounds as if this funeral director went above and beyond for this deceased man, which is what any family would want for their loved one. Unfortunately not everyone else would do the same, the hospital proved that by turning the dead man's remains away.
This incident has caused Cummings to call the hospital out on their actions. She said that when she arrived at the Hedland Hospital, a member of the morgue staff walked out to the hearse and without much thought said, "He's too fat, he can't go in the fridge."
That was it, she was turned away without any suggestions on an alternative. This cannot be the first heavy body to end up at the hospital, what have they done in previous incidences?
Apparently it wasn't the first body to be turned away because they weighed too much, last year the same thing happened with a 550-pound man. Cummings didn't sugar coat a thing she had to say about this very disparaging event.
"I could probably put a baby elephant in one of those fridges and it would fit through the door, said Cummings. She is correct in this point she is making because according to the Huffington Post today, a baby elephant weighs between 198 and 265 pounds.
This is much smaller than the man's corpse that the hospital refused to take. Apparently Cummings didn't realize at the time that an elephant baby is about the weight of a large, but not extra large man.
The hospital is in the process of purchasing new equipment that can store bodies up to 660-pounds, reports the regional director for Western Australia Country Health Services, Ron Wynn. He also said that it is important for the deceased to be treated with the utmost respect and they should try to do everything in their power to make the final arrangements easier on the family.
Maybe this horrendous event will have a silver lining for Cummings. Chances are people hearing about how she went above and beyond for this deceased man's remains, they will want to do business with her when the need presents itself.