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In 1968, Dr. Richard Lower completed one of the 1st successful human heart transplants. VCU celebrated the 50th anniversary of the transplant in 2018.

However, VCU didn’t have much to say last year about Bruce Tucker, the black man who involuntarily donated his heart. (1/15)🧜🏻‍♀️
In various articles & videos put out by the MCV Foundation, they celebrate the May 25, 1968 “success” but they consistently fail to mention the black man who was labeled as one of the “unclaimed dead” within an hour of being proclaimed dead. State law dictated a 24hr wait. (2/15)
In a 2018 MCV Foundation article about Dr. Lower they briefly highlighted the resulting court cause of the transplant. They use the court case victory to not just justify the actions of the doctor but celebrate his role in establishing the legal definition of brain dead. (3/15)🧜🏻‍♀️
However, MCV conveniently fails to mention how Tucker’s Administrators v. Lower is a widely debated case study in biomedical ethics. The case is cited many times over in academic text books.

In this book it is used as an example when evaluating then”dead donor rule.” (4/15)🧜🏻‍♀️
The facts of the case are Mr. Tucker was the victim of a fall who was brought to MCV for treatment. Not only did they not make an attempt to contact the family prior to making the decision for Mr. Tucker to be an organ donor, but his family was actively looking for him. (5/15)🧜🏻‍♀️
In Flesh and Blood by Susan Lederer, she describes the procedure as “an American transplant tragedy.”

A Washington Post article detailed the first American interracial heart transplant of a white executive who received a “Negro’s heart.” (6/15)🧜🏻‍♀️
The same book goes on to detail how Mr. Tucker’s brothers were informed of the organ donation by the undertaker. In addition, David Hume, the MCV chair of surgery, was quoted as saying they should not receive scrutiny of racism because of how much free care they provide. (7/15)🧜🏻‍♀️
The book goes on to detail the court case argued by Doug Wilder on the grounds of racism. The response was effectively to say “nah, we would have done the same thing for anyone.” ESPECIALLY of note is that the court case was decided by an all-male, all-white jury. (8/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
In a 1975 San Diego Legal Review article, the author notes the unprecedented final jury instruction given on brain death and that the ruling was a “considerable departure” from existing Virginia statute. (9/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
Tucker v Lower is another story in MCV’s documented history of using black bodies for medical advancement. It is another piece of history that was detrimental to access to medical care for the black community. It is also a history VCU avoids. (10/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
You can justify it all you want with the legal case; however, that is the exact systemic reinforcement that further legitimizes the fear in the black community of the medical industry. All that case says is existing laws aren’t enough to protect black bodies when (11/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
it comes to medical advancement (read as: anything white people place value on). We can’t hide from speaking on our history or else we become doomed to repeat it... if only out of ignorance. (12/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
So, how do you learn more about this history? Tune into #MUNICIPALMANIA on @WRIR at 11AM on Wednesday for an interview with Dr. Shawn Utsey and @ChelseaWiseRVA where we talk about MCV’s history... and VCU’s avoidance of that history. (13/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
In addition, if you missed tickets to the SOLD OUT screening of Dr. Utsey’s film- Until the Well Runs Dry- sign up at the link below to get more information on future screenings. (14/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
I would be remiss without ending by mentioning, if you feel so inclined to help support RVA Dirt’s work, check our Patreon below. We have some pretty sweet patron tiers available. (15/15) 🧜🏻‍♀️
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