SYDNEY – An Australian funeral director had to store the body of a 200-kg man in her car overnight after a morgue refused it for being too corpulent, reports said Thursday.
Joanne Cummings said she had to drive for two hours back home with the corpse in her hearse, with the air con going full blast to keep it cool.
“I actually had to turn around and drive two hours home to Roebourne (in Western Australia) and keep him in my car overnight,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “I had to have the air con up full and look after him that way, check on him every half hour, and the following morning we hired a sea container with a chiller unit in it.”
Cummings, the co-owner of Pilbara Funeral Services in northwest Australia, said it was not the first time the Hedland Health Campus hospital had rejected large bodies. She said a staff member described a 250-kg male corpse last year as being “too fat — he can’t go in the fridge!”
“You can’t say things like that. Imagine if this was your mother,” Cummings told the North West Telegraph newspaper in a separate interview.
Western Australia’s Country Health Service said the hospital’s equipment could only handle bodies weighing up to 150 kg and that it would look into installing machinery that could take bodies of up to 300 kg. “It is imperative that at all times a deceased person is treated with the utmost care and respect and viewings are arranged so as not to cause distress and inconvenience to grieving families,” the service’s regional director Ron Wynn said in a statement.
But Cummings dismissed his claim that the hospital could not take in larger bodies as a “load of crap.”
“I could probably put a baby elephant in one of those fridges and it’d fit through the door, and they’re refusing entry for a human being,” she said. “My issue is if that was your father, mother, partner . . . you wouldn’t want them refused entry into the mortuary.”