Friday, March 8, 2013

Cadavers for anatomy classes

You may not have thought much recently about cadaver supply, but there's a shortage, at least at current prices.

"By law, bodies cannot be sold, although groups like the association can be paid for processing. Member med schools pay about $1,300 per cadaver; nonmembers pay $2,300.

"Nationwide, there's a shortage of cadavers, in part because of the rise in organ donation. Cadavers without their organs are not suitable for medical education, Mr. Dudek notes. The association needs about 425 bodies a year for its members but missed that mark in 2009 and has barely met it in three of the last six years.
"“All our donations are done through referral,” says Donald Greene II, who co-owns the Rosemont-based company, with annual revenue of $680,000.
... Mr. Dudek hopes to develop new products, such as skeletons, which sell for up to $7,000. A lab to convert cadavers to plastic would cost about $45,000, money that isn't in the association's budget.

"The retail price for a plastinated cadaver is as much as $200,000, says Niles Mayrand, administrator of the plastination laboratory at the University of Michigan, one of the oldest in the country. Well-known thanks to the “Body Worlds” exhibit, which has been hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry three times since 2005, plastinated bodies increasingly are being used in education. They are unlikely to replace cadavers completely in med schools because they can't be dissected. Nonetheless, Mr. Dudek says he has to prepare for the future.

“Whether or not we're a nonprofit, we're still a business,” he says. “And like any business, you grow and adapt and evolve, or you disappear.”

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