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500 have left their bodies to Queen's docs; Remains help students learn anatomy.

Byline: MAURICE FITZMAURICE

MORE than 500 people have donated their bodies to QUB for medical research in the past five years, it has been revealed.

The human remains are mainly used to teach students anatomy, a doctor at the Centre for Biomedical Sciences Education told the Mirror.

But he added there will be a need for more bodies after refurbishment work at the facility allows surgeons to practise new techniques before using them on patients.

Acting director Dr Stephen McCullough said: "The bodies are mainly used for groups of young medical students learning anatomy so it's a very important part of their education as doctors.

"The sort of people who donate their bodies come from across the board and are often very determined and enthusiastic to help young doctors learn.

"Many of those who have died will be in their 70s and 80s and we will have some with replacement hips or prosthetic knees which can help those learning anatomy compare the human knee with the prosthetic one and how they work with the rest of the body.

"As well as the anatomy, there's another very important lesson here in that in some ways these people are the students' first patients and they learn to treat them with dignity and respect."

Dr McCullough added many people will indicate they want their remains to be donated decades before their death.

A body will usually be used by a group of students for study for a year before it is either buried or cremated according to the deceased's wishes.

Dr McCullough said revamping the centre which will pave the way for more work involving surgeons.

At the minute they often need to go to the US or England to practise groundbreaking procedures.

He added: "There would be a need for a few more bodies if these sorts of techniques were practised here.

"But obviously it's a very sensitive and delicate subject. Many of those who do donate are quite matter-offact about it and see their bodies as a receptacle that can be used by these students after they've gone. But many people do not feel that way and we have to respect that."

The Human Tissue Authority said Queen's is one of 29 British medical schools that use donated bodies to teach their students and the only one in Northern Ireland.

People have to sign a form, with a witness, if they want to donate their body to be used for medical research - including dissection.

j Queen's said 544 participants have joined the scheme since the summer of 2010.

The peak year for people signing over their bodies to medical science at the college was 2011/12 when 121 gave permission.

Last year 106 filled in the forms for the institution.

Queen's website says: "Anatomical s examination of the body by medical students and other future health professionals is an essential ingredient to their training."

The HTA added remains can be used for several purposes, including more general research into the human body.

It's also possible to donate your brain after you die and this is a valuable resource in learning about diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

m.fitzmaurice@mgn.co.uk

The people who donate their bodies want to help young medics learn STEPHEN McCULLOUGH BELFAST YESTERDAY

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 4, 2015
Words:552
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