May 26, 2024

Where did the bodies come from?

The Lancet asks questions
The origin of
plastinated bodies at an exhibit
in Birmingham, UK
, was controversial enough to serve as the subject of an
editorial in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals. Premier
Exhibitions, a company with good connections in China, had displayed its
collection of flayed and partially dissected bodies, male and female, in the
Custard Factory for 3 months, attracting many visitors, including thousands of

Where did the bodies
come from? In New York the company was forced to display a disclaimer that the
bodies could have been those of Chinese prisoners. In the UK no such advice was
displayed, as the 2004 Human Tissue Act does not
require proof of informed consent for tissues which have been imported.

Human rights activist Dr David Nicholl
believes that the bodies were the victims of torture  or execution and accused
the organisers
of having “blood money” on their hands for charging a £14
entrance fee. The Lancet supported his campaign for the Tissue Act to be amended
to include imported tissue. “Assurance that all remains
on public display were donated with informed consent of the deceased, is
imperative,” it says.

Even if some sort of proof of informed
consent were displayed, would the persons have consented to using their remains
to stage cocktail parties and banquets? The “festive package” for the Christmas
season included mulled wine, a hog roast and a cash bar for only £55 per guest.
~ The Lancet, Feb 20

Michael Cook
human dignity
informed consent