Cadavers: Anatomist wants NASS to endorse voluntary body donation to medical schools

 Prof. Oluwole Akintola of the Department of Anatomy, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), has called on the National Assembly (NASS)
to endorse policies that will allow voluntary body donation to serve as cadavers to medical schools.

He made the call on Friday in his paper presentation at the 213th Inaugural Lecture of the University entitled: “Human Anatomy: Beyond Flesh and Bones.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a cadaver is a dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy,
identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being.

Akintola, therefore, said “practical dissection of cadavers is the gold standard all over the world in the teaching and learning of human body structure at the gross level.”

The expert in human anatomy noted that it had become difficult to source for cadavers or dead bodies for teaching and research in institutions.

The don, who teaches in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, UNILORIN, asserts that no medical school in Nigeria source
for cadavers by a formal donation programme.

According to him, cadavers are sourced through the acquisition of abandoned (unclaimed) bodies of executed criminals and convicts.

He explained that “this practice is contrary to global best standard, and therefore unacceptable.

“The explanation for the absence of the body donation programme in most African medical schools, including Nigeria, may not be far from religious practices, cultural and traditional beliefs about what could happen to our bodies after death,” he said.

He stated that “in countries where voluntary body donation programme is in place, citizens support the programme because of the understanding that it is more rewarding to donate the whole body science at death rather than lose it to cremation or burial.”

He explained that in developed countries, departments of anatomy in medical schools acquire cadavers through the famous Body Bequest Programme (body donation programme).

Oluwole disclosed that in 2012, the World Anatomy umbrella body, the International Federation of Association of Anatomists (IFAA), recommended the use of donated bodies only for anatomical research and teaching in medical schools.

He added that South Africa is the only African country where most of the bodies used for medical education is sourced through voluntary donation.

“This is therefore a wakeup call for Africans that the human body still serve better usage after death if donated to science for teaching and research.

“Such a practice bears some resemblance to the organ donation programme where dead donors offer vital organs such as the heart, liver, cornea and kidney
to patients in dire need of organ transplantation,” he said.

Oluwole opined that there should be aggressive public enlightenment campaign on donation of dead bodies, adding that a sizeable number of
people would embrace this global best practice. (NAN)