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Aim Higher

School of Medicine

Anatomical Material

Need for Anatomical Material

Anatomy, which is the study of the structure of the human body, is one of the most important courses in education of a physician. It is also of fundamental importance in the training of dentists and of those in ancillary fields, such as nursing and physical therapy. In most of these fields, the study of anatomy comes first and serves as the foundation for other courses. Anatomy is studied in many ways; one of the most fundamental is dissection of the human body. Having finished their basic course in anatomy, students frequently take special or advanced courses. Doctors in residency training programs often pursue special courses in anatomy, and doctors in practice may undertake a review of anatomy. Finally, with advances in medical research, it is increasingly necessary to engage in special anatomical studies, particularly in the field of surgery. In view of the various needs in teaching and research, there is a continued need for anatomical material.

Sources of Anatomical Material

In most states, the anatomical material comes primarily from city, county and state institutions in which the patients have died without known relatives. Usually, the laws in the respective states provide that the medical school shall receive all such unclaimed dead.

In recent years, however, with the increased availability of public welfare funds for burial costs, fewer unclaimed bodies have been coming to the medical schools. Fortunately, many individuals have recognized this problem and have willed their bodies to medical science. General interest in this procedure is increasing, and a number of state legislatures have taken steps to provide state laws to cover such bequests. In Michigan, Act No. 368, Public Acts of 1978, Article 10, known as the “Uniform Anatomical Gift Law,” reads:

“Any individual of sound mind and 18 years of age or more may give all or any physical part of the individual’s body for any purpose specified in section 10103; the gift to take effect upon death.”

Section 10103 (A-E) states that any accredited medical school may become doners of gifts of bodies or parts thereof. It should be understood that there is no fee involved or payment given for willing or donating the human body or any parts thereof to any medical school in the State of Michigan.

Since the act was passed, the University has been receiving an increasing number of bequests. Each such bequest is deeply appreciated, and each plays a vital role in medical and dental teaching and/or research. It seems clear that an increasing number of such bequests will make it possible for medical and dental schools to carry out their anatomical teaching or research in the proper fashion. The wholehearted cooperation received from the general public, the clergy, the medical, dental, legal, and mortuary science professions is deeply appreciated.