News from a Refurbished Dissection Room

Memorial Service December 4th 2013

Every few years Leicester Medical School holds a service of remembrance in recognition of all those that kindly donated their bodies to the medical school. Through this service, we also recognise the sacrifices made by surviving family members of our donors. This academic year, we held a memorial service to honour the contributions made to medical education and research by those who donated their bodies between 2010 and 2013. The presence of families of our donors allowed us a rare opportunity in which we could offer our thanks directly & personally. This is necessary because when the lives of our donors end, their loved ones are not able to say their goodbyes at a burial or cremation. Whilst some families may hold memorial services, it is often only after medial school cremations that the families feel able to complete their bereavement.
We were privileged to welcome many families and also to remember those who could not be with us. Father David Rocks, one of the University’s Chaplains, coordinated a moving service, with sensitivity to different faiths and cultures. The planners of this event, the Dissection Room Management Committee, were pleased to see many students in attendance. Many of the families found it of value to see as well as meet with students who were very professional. In particular, the families valued opportunities in which they chatted to students over tea and coffee. We were grateful to four students, namely, Deevia, Gus, Matthew and Jaspreet who were brave enough to do the student declaration and the difficult task of reading out names of the donors. Some of the students who attended came up to me afterwards to say how moving the service was. Others mentioned to me in person or by email that “seeing the grief being shown by the families made it quite personal for you”; “the dissecting room now was a room of individual people with families, no longer anonymous mannequins”. It does us all good sometimes to stop our routine of work and reflect on the important issues of what we do and why we do those things.

a teaching session in the dissection room

a teaching session in the dissection room

Refurbishment of Dissecting Room: August 2013

Over the previous summer vacation, the Dissection Room (DR) underwent a programme of refurbishments to improve decoration of the room and its audio-visual facilities. Some walls and other parts of the fabric were repaired and then painted, before 8 new, large TV screens and a networked computer were installed. Each of the TV screens also allows connections to laptops and iPads® individually or as part of a network, depending upon requirements of the teaching activity. Hence, rather than project teaching images through acetates, teaching staff can now show high resolution images and videos instead. An HD video camera can also allow teaching staff to demonstrate using anatomical specimens to the whole class with ease. The staff are still getting used to the technology and are becoming more comfortable using the equipment, ironing out teething problems etc. Indeed, we have managed to blow membranes on two of the old speakers which have now been replaced. Photography is strictly controlled in the DR, just as it would be in any patient consultation room or hospital. Thus, it is unfortunate that students are unable to use their iPads® or other electronic media devices within the DR.

Whose Body is it Anyway? – Dr Elizabeth Hurren, October 2013

Have you ever wondered where our bequeathed bodies come from? Generally, they come from the East Midlands as those who wish to donate their bodies register with their local medical school or the nearest one that still accept bequests. Occasionally, they come from farther afield if another medical school is unable to accept them. In our case this is often Cambridgeshire or London. But these arrangements have not always been the case throughout history. Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, bodies were given to surgeons (to use in the study of medicine) following a public execution. Given that not enough bodies were donated in this way, this lack of bodies gave “body snatchers” opportunities provide bodies to the medical profession, illegally, for commercial gain. In a fascinating talk by Dr Elizabeth Hurren, Reader in Medical Humanities, School of History, the history of where bodies came from and who would see and dissect the bodies was described. It was shocking to learn from her talk that it was often the case that people did not die on the gallows as a result of the executions. Instead, they finally died during dissection and would then be viewed by many members of the public.

Watch Dr Hurren's fascinating lecture

Mrs H.O.R.A.C.E – A Collaboration with the University of Bristol

H.O.R.A.C.E stands for Human Online Resource for Anatomical Cross-sectional Education and was produced by the University of Bristol, Centre of Comparative and Clinical Anatomy. He is a special cadaver that has been CT scanned and then sectioned into 75 transverse slices. Each slice was then preserved in thin perspex containers such that they can be held and viewed physically whilst also reviewing the respective CT scan.The University of Leicester is now awaiting our own such resource which is being prepared by Bristol, but this time we shall be receiving a female cadaver who will be housed at Dissecting Room along with her CT images (and possibly MRIs). We anticipate she will arrive before the start of the next academic year and be permanently available for students to learn sectional anatomy and gain confidence in reading images from scans.

Dr Heather Crick

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