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Journal of the Anatomical Society of India

Vol. 51, No. 2 (2002-07 - 2002-12)


A vast majority of the Anatomy departments all over India are struggling to get out of the crisis of importunate and perilous shortage of cadavers, and the almost "many a rough corners and no smooth solutions" situation.

Opinions galore, if query is "indispensability of cadavers", in medical education in general and teaching/learning of Anatomy in particular. Pros and cons of all the alternate views need be scrutinized under microscope!

Justifiably, views vary. But, never the less, justifying one's opinion wouldn't convert it as the ultimate! Since times immemorial, teaching/learning anatomy depended upon aids like illustrations on black board, models and charts and then audiovisual aids crept in. Use of animal material is also advocated (use of pig/sheep/ox eye ball for dissection as suggested in the Cunningham's manual of practical anatomy vol 3 12th Ed, P-341James Cooper Brash). A step further, apart and up, is using mechanical/electromechanical models for larynx, extra-ocular muscle actions etc. Now it is the turn of 3D animations in surreal or virtual environs of computer graphics and multimedia, giving a feel very close to reality ! But how close does that drag your imagination to? The most essential tactile sensory and stereognostic memory is not touched, keep apart satiating ! In the actuals, it is the touch and feel that gives the much needed memory to be retained and extrapolated to clinical experiences later and then on for ever!

Can 3D animations and surreality ever be considered replacement to actuals? An emphatic 'No' echoes and lingers in mind even if unsaid !

Museum flooded with dissected specimens can also, likewise, not replace the feel the student acquires while dissecting in real.

Time constraints , imposed mercilessly by the MCI norms, led many of us to compromise, adjusting the available resources to fit into a self created tight schedule. In spite of all these, can we imagine an Anatomy department, Where teaching/learning of anatomy is prime activity sans cadavers?

How and why we landed up in this acute perilous scracity of cadavers? Viewing the social and legal aspects push us close to the interiors of ailing system. Where lies the cure?

Anatomy act is a state act promulgated by the legislature and published in the state government gazette. Every state ought to have one. (e.g. Punjab Anatomy act 1963 is Punjab act 14 of 1963, published in the Punjab Government Gazette, extra ordinary, 16th April 1963.)

As discrepancies exist, betwixt any two or more such state acts, there is an impending and imminent need to amend, bringing in uniformity. A draft act should be made for all the states to use as model of guiding principles for amendment of Anatomy acts. This draft should contain all possible aspects well covered as perceived, after going through the acts of different states.

Anatomy act elaborates and encompasses all related aspects from definitions, time span limitations duties and responsibilities to the protective cover to designated officer dealing with the matter. When to declare a body as unclaimed, whose responsibility is it to inform and assist transportation of unclaimed body to the rightful claimant i.e. Anatomy department of the nearest medical collage and role of personel from village and police officer ought to be its indis-pensable contents.

Social organizations and Municipalities / corporations which attempt to collect and carry on the last rituals of the unclaimed bodies, if proved as intentional in obstructing effect of Anatomy act, are committing an offense that is punishable, though done in good faith but un-aware of legal consequences or unwittingly. The anatomist, the designate officer, has legal protection due to granted immunity by the act.

Then, what is lacking ? It is effective implementation in letter and spirit by all concerned. Who should effectuate this implementation ? Naturally it is you and me. We only need to know the act well !

The social aspect can be molded to suit our requirements. Let us inculcate the habit of donation voluntarily the body after the death. Voluntary donation of body is not much different from donation of organs including eyes, kidney, liver, heart or simply blood; only a bent of mind is needed. Similar to voluntary blood donation wiping off of commercial blood selling, this can also be achieved if we have right intentions, direction and the drive! Let charity start at home. Donate our bodies to Anatomy department and then start motivating all others to follow suit !

Long live A.S.I.


(Dr. Patnaik V.V. Gopichand)


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