Kenyans urged to donate bodies for research

September 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 15 – The University of Nairobi’s (UoN) Human Anatomy Department is calling on Kenyans to consider donating their bodies for research in medical schools.

The Head of the Department Dr Julius Ogeng’o explained that student doctors would benefit from the cadavers during their laboratory training sessions. He said only a number of people had already indicated their willingness to donate their corpses for research.

“As we are talking I have four wills but do you know the number of bodies I require in one academic year? I need 75. Now if I have four wills and those fellows have not died and their relatives might refuse to volunteer the bodies, I would have nothing to use,” he explained noting that some families often refuse to honour the wishes of their kin’s will.

“It (body) has no expiry date but by the end of one year it’s usually just a bag of bones left because we would have removed and studied all the flesh, organs and blood vessels. We go region by region and sometimes we have to cut through the bones as well.”

He further contended that the cadavers gave medical students a strong foundation on which to base their skills.

“How are you going to fix an engine if you have never dismantled one? You must learn how to dismantle an engine and learn its components in order to fix it. So studying body parts is the basis of medicine,” he said.

Dr Ogeng’o also explained that under the Human Anatomy Act, the university was authorised to use any unclaimed bodies that lay in public mortuaries.

“This law allows registered schools of medicine to obtain unclaimed bodies from government institutions. So we call such institutions and ask if there are any; if a body stays in a public mortuary for more than 21 days without being claimed, it is given to us,” he noted.

According to the acting Superintendent at City Mortuary of Nairobi Joseph Ng’ang’a, the morgue receives 15 bodies per day.

Dr Ogeng’o added that bodies that were whole and healthy were most suitable: “If you had a cancer that destroyed all the organs, your body would not be fit for us. If a significant part of a body was destroyed by a disease, then it would not be useful to us. We only use the parts that are normal. We are not a department of pathology.”

He also clarified that although the university’s human anatomy department was understaffed, it was not in jeopardy as had been portrayed in some sections of the press.

“We have 14 staff and 456 students which translates into 32 or 33 students per lecturer. And a lecturer spends about 15 minutes with each group of eight students during an anatomy class,” he said.

The UoN anatomy department condemned the recent bizarre incident where body parts of the dead were illegally cut off and sold.

“It is absurd, it is unfortunate and it has no basis whatsoever. I have difficulties understanding why anybody would do that. I don’t understand and I would not bring myself to understand why a person would steal a body part,” he said.


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