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March 2, 2012

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Shortage of donated bodies plagues medical schools

SHANGHAI only has half the number of bodies needed for medical research and education due to locals' low willingness to donate their bodies.

The Shanghai Red Cross receives some 400 bodies annually - far from the 700 to 800 required for medical education and research. In medical schools, more than a dozen students must share one body in the anatomy class.

Medical schools said bodies are so precious that a local university has to make 15 to 20 medical students share one body, and some universities in other provinces have resorted to showing videos instead of using real bodies.

Since starting a system of body donation in 1982, Shanghai has received 31,327 applications for body or cornea donation, or both. So far, 6,090 people have given donations, the Shanghai Red Cross said yesterday.

The registered donors account for 31 percent of the national total, and donors who realized their wishes account for 70 percent of the national figure.

A total of 1,698 people signed up to donate their entire bodies for research and teaching, their corneas for transplant, or both, last year. Some 472 of them died and realized their wish.

Under current law, Shanghai allows cornea for transplant, while the body can be used only for medical research and teaching.

Tan Deyan from Fudan University School of Medicine's clinical anatomy laboratory said the human body is a perfect teaching tool for medical students, especially surgeons. In developed countries, a medical student should anatomize ten bodies before becoming an experienced expert. But eight medical students must share one body at Fudan due to the lack, he said.

Fudan has strict rules to deal with body anatomy. There is a small farewell hall for families before the body is used for study, all students must bow to the body and the school will cremate the body and give it to family members afterwards.

Tan said the whole procedure is to show respect the deceased and care to the families.


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