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Cadavers Were Used as the Donors Intended

March 11, 2004

Re "$704,600 Billed for Cadavers," March 9: Why all the fuss about the UCLA cadavers? As I understand it, they were used for the purpose their late owners intended: biological research. If I will my body to an institution for research (as I fully intend to do), I do not care whether that institution uses all of it on its premises or whether it sells off parts to other institutions also engaged in research. I don't care whether those institutions pay for the parts they receive. All I care about is that the body or as many parts as possible are used to advance scientific knowledge.

I would object if parts were sold to restaurants or to religious institutions for bizarre rituals or possibly even to packers of pet foods, but as long as they are used for legitimate research purposes I have no objection. Objections from my family or anyone else are wholly irrelevant. It was my body and my will and that, to me, is that.

Charles Bell

Mountlake Terrace, Wash.

*

I've been on the clinical faculty at UCLA Medical School since 1977 and also attend there in the Anatomy Department, where I am a volunteer instructor for first-year medical students. In light of all the publicity cast on the donation by high-minded citizens of their bodies to benefit medical education and research, it is important that the public be aware of the deep respect with which the students treat their cadavers. These donated bodies, a gift after life's end, are in reality the students' partners in discovering the secrets of the human body. These students, who are at the beginning of many years of study and training to become the caregivers for our community, are acutely aware of this trust.

It is extremely moving to me that the students, at their own volition, hold a memorial service for the cadavers at the end of their anatomy course.

Richard A. Braun MD

Assistant Clinical Professor

of Surgery, UCLA

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