Museum Anatomic Gifts in 2015

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Canopic Jars Egyptian Canopic Jars for holding organs during mummification

Many families look for ways to make use of their own or their loved one’s body after death in some positive, socially beneficial way. Common options include whole body donation for medical school education and organ and tissue donation to help the living. We accept use of the body to teach the healers and heal the sick. But what of teaching the healthy public? Currently, society offers few options to donate one’s body for public science education.

The modern standout exception in this area is Body Worlds, the plastinated fascination that has drawn thousands.
Body-Worlds

Older examples might be the sliced whole humans found in some museums, including here in Chicago;
Slice of full body

and, similarly, jars of fetuses which show us a hopeless but informative blossoming of would-be life.
Feturs jars

Collections of organs have been typically under lock and key of medical schools; and only variably available to the public, depending on the collection.

Without a doubt, informed consent is a prerequisite to any sort of body, organ or tissue donation for any reason. But should families be allowed to consent to donate organs for public education?

Tell us what you think. We are considering the option. Take a look at a possible model for a consent.

Let’s have this discussion. And thank you for your thoughts.

Jar with question mark

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