Hundreds Miss Out On Autopsy
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HUNDREDS MISS OUT ON AUTOPSY
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
The first public autopsy in Britain for 170 years has gone ahead despite
official warnings the event was illegal.
Disappointed crowds outside German Professor Gunther von Hagens'
controversial Body Worlds exhibition in Brick Lane, east London said the
waiting list for the last available seats was 1,000 names long.
Prof von Hagens launched into a lengthy and impassioned defence of his
actions in which he claimed to be acting in the name of democracy and
demystifying the medical profession.
Among the 500-strong audience were anatomy professors, asked to attend by
Scotland Yard after a Government inspector warned that the autopsy could be
Moments before starting the dissection, the professor, assisted by a German
doctor and another from Rotherham, South Yorkshire said he regarded his
audience as "newcomers" to the science of anatomy.
One of his assistants said the body the autopsy was performed on was that of
a 72-year-old man, adding: "He had a normal life, there was nothing
exceptional in his life, he was a businessman, an employee, who lost his job
at the age of 50. At that time he started drinking."
The man had drunk up to two bottles of whisky a day and was a heavy smoker
for the last 50 years of his life, the audience were told.
The 72-year-old had donated his body to the Body World's exhibition which
opened in Britain earlier this year, showing preserved human corpses in a
variety of poses. His organs will be taken back to Germany after the
post-mortem to be "plastinated" to form part of the exhibition, the
Most of those queuing to watch the autopsy either live or on big screens set
up in a nearby gallery said they found the prospect of watching such an
Social Worker Tina McGarry, 41, from Watford, said as long as all parties
were consenting she was perfectly happy with the public staging of an
autopsy. "I think it can be educational to some people. We have become too
sterile in our communities, we don't see death. I think that's one of the
reasons why some people find it sick," she said.
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