Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crash Test Bodies Revealed

NBC Action News in Kansas City reported this week that some corpses donated for medical research are being used as crash test dummies:

Utilizing FOIA requests, NBC Action News obtained more than a dozen cadaver videos, and searched government databases with hundreds of pictures and thousands of pages of reports documenting whole corpse and partial cadaver testing.

The documents detail 4,010 tests funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using full cadavers or cadaver parts since 1981.

What's more, there doesn't seem to have been any clear consent for this:

Our investigation indicated it is unlikely that the donor ever had any idea he’d be contributing to automotive safety through cadaver impact testing.

Standard release forms in willed body programs reference "use in medical education or research" but don’t mention potential use in impact tests.

The NBC report also indicates the U.S. military and NASA have used bodies donated for medical research:

NASA has used cadavers to test space craft and the Army has used cadavers in landmine explosions for tests to improve footwear design for soldiers.

The Catholic Key Blog reported a while back on the lack of consent for bodies used in the "fascinating" and "real" travelling "educational" show of young, unnamed, unconsented, flayed and playfully-posed, plastinated Chinese cadavers that wasn't such a hit at Union Station.

You'll remember the "educational" justification used by the bodies show promoters - See how the body works. Look what happens to your lungs if you smoke. See what drinking does to your liver, etc.

Visitors to bodies-type shows also gain such important "educational" insights as - What dead people look like playing checkers, riding a bicycle or kicking a soccer ball.

So here's a Swiftian suggestion for the continued, good educational benefit of used-up crash test, NASA and military cadavers. Why not plastinate them and put them on display? Valuable educational lessons could be learned - See what happens if you don't shell-out for the side-impact airbags. The importance of watching your step in minefields. Ever wonder how a body responds to sudden depressurization?