Whose “Bodies” are They?

Maybe you’ve heard of the amazing Bodies exhibition, where you can see actual human bodies displayed in ways unimaginable a few years ago.

Using a process called “plastination,” the anatomists can preserve bodies in perfect condition, allowing the paying visitor to see humanity in all its pristine complexity.

It’s a fascinating exhibit, and well worth taking a few hours to go see.

But where are these bodies actually coming from? The Bodies Web site says that they’re from the “Dalian Medical University of Plastination Laboratories” in China. Apparently, the university, “legally obtains the bodies from various medical schools and universities.”

Now, “legally” includes obtaining bodies from Jane and John Doe’s that the cops turn over. That already makes me uneasy, because I imagine some family who will never know what happened to their brother, while I pay $20 to see his corpse made to look as though it’s shooting a basketball.

But according to a recent New York Times article, it may be worse than that. Officials at the University and the Customs Bureau in Dalian said they had “no records showing the supplier…having acquired bodies and then transporting them to exhibitions abroad.”

And the university spokesperson said, ““I don’t know where the bodies came from.”

So, how much, if anything, are the suppliers paying for bodies? Enough to feed a family for a while? Enough to motivate a murder of a homeless or deranged person? Enough for the cops to hand over one of the vast number of people that China executes every year?

We don’t know. What we do know is that it’s big business. As far as I’m concerned, when it’s big business (especially in China), all bets are off.

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