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New York woman's body mistakenly donated for scientific research

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The body of a recently deceased New York woman was mistakenly released from a city morgue and donated for medical student research, city officials and a family attorney said on Monday.

Children of the late Aura Ballesteros, 85, made arrangements with the New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner in mid-May to hold their mother's body at a city morgue while they planned a funeral, attorney Sanford Rubenstein said.

Shortly after Ballesteros' body arrived at the Jacobi Medical Center morgue in the Bronx, it was erroneously donated to the nearby Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Rubenstein said.

"Obviously it was negligence ... carelessness, recklessness," Rubenstein said.

Ballesteros died of natural causes at a local nursing home and her body was eventually returned to her family, but it had already been embalmed, Rubenstein and officials said.

That caused her children additional "emotional distress" in the aftermath of her death and they planned to sue the city, Rubenstein said.

Chief Medical Examiner's Office spokeswoman Julie Bolcer confirmed that Ballesteros' body was inadvertently donated for scientific research but said it was only embalmed and not dissected.

A Bronx morgue worker had failed to observe a "hold" notice on the body and the department was addressing the incident, she said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Beech)

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