Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Many Uses of Tissue from Human Corpses

Lots of news this week about the market in human tissues:
Inside the marketplace for human tissue, the opportunities for profits are immense. A single, disease-free body can spin off cash flows of $US80,000 to $US200,000 for the various non-profit and for-profit players involved in recovering tissues and using them to manufacture medical and dental products, according to documents and experts in the field. . . .

 Human skin takes on the colour of smoked salmon when it is professionally removed in rectangular shapes from a cadaver. A good yield is about 5500 square centimetres. After being mashed up to remove moisture, some is destined to protect burn victims from life-threatening bacterial infections or, once further refined, for breast reconstructions after cancer. The use of human tissue “has really revolutionised what we can do in breast reconstruction surgery”, explains Dr Ron Israeli, a New York plastic surgeon. . . .

 A significant number of recovered tissues are transformed into products whose shelf names give little clue to their actual origin. They are used in the dental and beauty industries, for everything from plumping up lips to smoothing out wrinkles Cadaver bone — harvested from the dead and replaced with PVC piping for burial — is sculpted like pieces of hardwood into screws and anchors for dozens of orthopaedic and dental applications. Or the bone is ground down and mixed with chemicals to form strong surgical glues that are advertised as being better than the artificial variety.
It's hard to say that any of this is bad, except for the element of deception involved in getting permission to use the tissues. Isn't the furtherance of human life a better use for corpses than burying them in the ground?


leif said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leif said...

absolutely it is. one of frijthof capra's views is life didn't take over the planet by combat, but by's obvious that the nutrients are passed around from one species to the next: that is cooperation...and partnership.

so long as safety precautions are in place, observed, and reportable, and of course graft (no pun intended) is minimized, i couldn't argue with expanding the practice. as cell therapy becomes more and more important, i see this practice becoming ever more important.

PVC... wow. i wonder what evelyn waugh would say to that. amazing.