Mummy project's director assailed

June 18, 1994|By Michael Ollove | Michael Ollove,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland's health secretary yesterday called for the firing of the official who is using state facilities to mummify a Maryland man.

But in calling for the termination of Ron Wade, executive director of the Maryland Anatomy Board, Health Secretary Nelson J. Sabatini did not take issue with the mummy project itself but with what he considered Mr. Wade's "poor taste" and "insensitivity" in describing the experiment to The Sun.

"The comments and the cavalier handling of this thing was totally unprofessional and showed a lack of judgment and poor taste," Mr. Sabatini said late yesterday.

Mr. Wade, whose agency provides bodies used in medical research, was traveling yesterday evening and could not be reached for comment.

The Sun yesterday published an article describing the mummy project, apparently the first time the exact procedures used by the ancient Egyptians have been replicated in modern times. Working in the basement of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Mr. Wade and a New York professor of ancient philosophy last month began preserving the body of a 76-year-old Baltimore area man who had donated his body for use in medical research.

Mr. Sabatini, who has no jurisdiction over Mr. Wade, said he is not qualified to pass judgment on the scientific value of the mummy experiment, but objected to the way Mr. Wade described the project.

In one remark, Mr. Wade said he had considered using the body of John Thanos, the killer executed in Baltimore last month.

"I think the reference to Mr. Thanos was totally inappropriate and showed incredibly poor judgment," Mr. Sabatini said.

The secretary also said he was offended that Mr. Wade referred to the subject of the project, whose identity is a secret, as "E.M. Balm."

Mr. Sabatini said he will urge the anatomy board and Donald Wilson, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to fire Mr. Wade, who reports to both organizations.

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