Two sets of human remains found in a Sand Island freezer are documented research cadavers that had been in the possession of the Hawaii Institute of Anatomy, an institute spokesman said.
Police said a rental agent who went into the vacated building yesterday found the remains in a freezer and reported it. An institute spokesman said the institute and the landlord are currently in a rental dispute.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office took the remains, possibly of a man and a woman, from the building, police said.
"This is a very unfortunate situation," said Bryan Avery, director and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Institute of Anatomy, in a statement. "We are committed to our mission of assisting the medical and scientific communities. We are also deeply respectful of the wishes of these donors and want to help fulfill their final wish to help others through their very personal gifts."
The institute provides human bodies for the education of health care practitioners, such as chiropractors, massage therapists and physical therapists. The cadavers were fully documented as donations from individuals who contributed them to research and education, the institute said.
Avery said he didn’t know why the agent went into the facility.
"The landowner knew we were there, and knew that the freezer was used to hold these tissues," Avery said. "We fully document every donation we receive and could have easily provided police with whatever information they required."
The institute’s biggest concern is that an examination of the cadavers by the medical examiner’s office could ruin them for scientific or medical uses.
"These donors made their final gifts to help science and education," Avery said. "It would be extremely unfortunate if their wishes could not be carried out. We are trying to work with the medical examiner to provide the documentation they need to return the tissues to us."
The Hawaii Institute of Anatomy is licensed by the state as a funeral establishment, and the Hawaii Department of Health knows of the Institute’s work and of its use of the tissues in research and education, the institute said.