Disturbing Content: Human Umbilical Cords Found in Luggage


NEW ORLEANS – On Tuesday August 2, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists at the Louis Armstrong International Airport discovered a human umbilical cord in a passenger’s baggage. 

The passenger arrived on Spirit flight 1439 from Honduras and was referred for a secondary inspection. While inspecting their baggage, CBP Agriculture Specialists discovered a human umbilical cord. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Houston was contacted and stated that the umbilical cord and a medical wrist band that was commingled with it could be abandoned or detained. The passenger claimed it belonged to a relative and chose to abandon the items, which were then incinerated.

According to the Food & Drug Administration, "these unapproved (illegal) products whether recovered from your own body or another person’s body, include stem cells, stromal vascular fraction (fat-derived cells), umbilical cord blood and/or cord blood stem cells1, amniotic fluid, Wharton’s jelly, ortho-biologics, and exosomes. FDA has received reports of blindness, tumor formation, infections, and more, detailed below, due to the use of these unapproved products."

Umbilical Cord Found in Luggage (Contributed/CBP)

Umbilical Cord Found in Luggage (Contributed/CBP)

However, this was not the first time such an unusual item was found. On June 28, a passenger on the same recurring flight from Honduras was referred to secondary inspection. X-rays revealed an item packed in the middle of t-shirts sealed in cellophane. Further examination of the t-shirts revealed a small pouch containing clothing, paperwork, a positive pregnancy test, and an unknown tissue sample. The passenger was questioned about the items and initially was unsure what they were, before ultimately declaring them as a human umbilical cord and positive pregnancy test belonging to a relative.

Umbilical Cord & Positive Pregnancy Test Found in Luggage (Contributed/CBP)

Umbilical Cord & Positive Pregnancy Test Found in Luggage (Contributed/CBP)

“With the vast number of daily travelers, our officers are guaranteed to encounter some unusual items,” said Mark Choina, Acting Area Port Director of New Orleans. “However, two umbilical cords, a month apart, coming from the same country is noteworthy. This seizure highlights the importance of knowing what is in your bag, and if you can legally import it, especially if you are transporting it for someone else.”

The CDC requires a permit or certification for certain biological materials imported into the U.S. Determine if you need an import permit here.

On a Typical Day in Fiscal Year 2021, CBP discovered 264 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 2,548 materials for quarantine: plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil.

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