May 29, 2008

Where'd All the Dead Bodies Go?

You might think that if there’s one product that will never be in short supply, it’s dead bodies.

Though there’s no shortage of dead people, but U.S. medical schools and universities are having trouble getting enough cadavers for dissection in anatomy courses.

The Los Angeles Times and the Denver Post report that the supply of human cadavers for dissection in Colorado and Wyoming is at its lowest rate in 20 years, and it’s hardly any better in other parts of the country, forcing anatomy instructors to turn away students.

Mark Frasier, an associate professor at Colorado State University, told the Los Angeles Times: “This year, I requested 15 (cadavers) and we’ll get seven. So now I’m cutting back on students that can take dissection. It’s such a shame. I have the room, all the things we need to teach, and I can’t do it.”

Mike Carry, an official at the Colorado Anatomical Board, told the Denver Post: “Textbooks will tell you where things are supposed to be, but hardly anyone has that typical pattern. One of the things you get out of dissecting is an understanding of variation.”

The Times also quoted Arthur Caplan, of the University of Pennsylvania, as saying the shortage is due to a surge in demand as new students enter the system, and competition for donations from the growing human tissue industry.

–Will Crain/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“For human dissection needs, the body count is low”
Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2008

“Cadaver shortage hits medical schools”
Denver Post, April 29, 2008

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