Wednesday, March 10, 2004

UCLA suspends its Willed Body Program

Top officials at UCLA Tuesday voluntarily suspended the university's Willed Body Program after accusations that its director and others sold body parts for profit, a lawyer for the school said.

The announcement came as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt the program.

The order was issued one day after a class-action lawsuit was filed by families of donors who allege parts of their loved ones' remains were illegally sold for profit.

Louis Marlin, an attorney for UCLA, said the university's decision to suspend the program was effective immediately, and hinted that it's possible the program won't be restarted.

This has the potential to severly harm medical education throughout the country. Medical schools are dependent on the generosity of individuals to donate their bodies for education and research. Many schools are getting away from the use of cadavers for anatomy instruction, and using computer simulations. I think that medical education suffers from the diminished use cadavers for two reasons, first of all a computer simulation cannot duplicate the "feel" of human tissue and the use of cadavers instills the medical student with the responsibility that accompanies being a physician.
It is inevitable that people will think twice about donating their bodies now.

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