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Police Break Up Ring Accused of Stealing Eyes From Morgue

May 7, 1990

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Police arrested an eye doctor and 11 morgue attendants for allegedly stealing eyes from bodies in the city morgue for use in cornea transplant operations, authorities said Monday.

The scandal broke Friday when a pathologist performing an autopsy on the body of a 20-year-old male at the Caracas morgue noticed that the eyes had been removed, police said.

She notified other doctors, who began looking though the refrigerated sections where bodies are kept. Five other corpses, all of young people, were also eyeless, police said.

On Saturday night, police arrested Juan Gerardo Schultz, a 37-year-old ophthalmologist, at his eye clinic in Maracay, about 60 miles west of Caracas, said police commissioner Alexis Bolivar.

Police also were questioning other medical personnel at the eye clinic, he said.

Also arrested over the weekend were 11 morgue attendants, including one man who had previously worked for the Eye Bank, a non-profit organization that helps find donor organs for cornea transplant patients.

Police sources said Schultz allegedly paid the morgue attendants up to $23 per eye, and charged from $1,500 to $2,000 for a cornea transplant operation.

Clear corneas from dead people are used in transplant operations to replace corneas that are clouded by cataracts.